Will the Church Survive the Pandemic?
I believe it will, but we will have to be our best selves to be relevant to the 21st-century world that has come face to face with human fragility and our fractured politics.
At our best in the Church we address basic human longings . . .
we offer a place of redemption and healing for the broken and the sick . . .
we offer a place of challenge and call for the strong and the wealthy . . .
we offer a place of hope and unity for the despairing and the divided.
This last of these “at our bests” might be the hardest for those of us in the Church in the United States. A survey recently conducted asked people of fourteen developed nations if the pandemic had brought their nation closer together or made their nation more divided. The poll indicates that the citizens of the United States, by a large margin, believe the coronavirus has left us more divided than united – 77% to 18% (Pew Research Center). This is a greater disparity than any other country surveyed. (The fourteen-country median is 48% to 46%.)
Can the Church offer a way forward? I believe we can be a balm for a troubled world as we do a few things with love and generosity.
We must speak the truth with grace and humility.
We must honor all people even as we might disagree with them.
We must recognize and celebrate that God has given us minds with which to discern
the world through the sciences, humanities, and religious aspirations and practices
(our own and the aspirations and practices of other world religions).
I believe we can survive and thrive as we do these things. The world is groaning for the new life we are called to embody.
I close with a prayer from our Book of Common Worship:
Almighty God, we pray for your blessing on the church in this place.
Here may the faithful find salvation, and the careless be awakened.
Here may the doubting find faith, and the anxious be encouraged.
Here may the tempted find help, and the sorrowful comfort.
Here may the weary find rest, and the strong be renewed.
Here may the aged find consolation and the young be inspired;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Grace and peace,