Across the news each day, I see more news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s difficult not to focus on the scary portion of the news stories - from how fast it can spread to the number of deaths it has caused.
Instead of worrying about the frightening possibilities, I am trying to refocus my attention on what we can control. I called a meeting with many of our staff as well as a few of the congregations lay leaders to discuss how we can prepare. We thought about each program and piece of the church and how we can keep our congregation, MDO families, staff, and visitors safe as possible. What do we need to improve upon now? What contingency plans do we have for the future if the disease ends up affecting this community?
Unfortunately, this means making some changes and additional ones in the future to keep our congregation as safe as possible. While change may be scary, we also know that some alterations are needed to ensure that health and wholeness are available to as many of our congregants as possible.
Preparation of all sorts can be a spiritual practice. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness preparing for his ministry, we prepare for the Easter celebration during these 40 days of Lent. Through prayer, worship, and other spiritual practices, we grow closer with God and ready ourselves for the day of resurrection.
The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is an illustration stressing the importance of preparation. The ten women readied themselves to wait for the groom; however, five did not bring extra oil for the night. They ended up missing out on the wedding banquet. This may be a very different situation, yet Jesus stresses the crucial process of preparation and thinking ahead.
In Matthew 10, Jesus gives us the analogy of being “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” While we aren’t talking about metaphorical wolves or physical human enemies around us, we are speaking about wisdom. We must be wise - considering various possible scenarios and yet be like doves by keeping a sense of innocence and hope about us.
May our season of Lent be one in which we focus on growing closer to God as well as “keep awake” to the world to ensure a safe planet for all.