Last week Mark Ramsey wrote a thought-provoking article titled “Timing,” wherein he challenged us as clergy to open our thinking to the wondrous things that Jesus is doing “out there” in the world. He stated that the resurrected Jesus had gone ahead of the disciples and their job was to catch up with Him. He then challenged us to do the same. To not get too comfortable, resting from Holy Week and Easter that we forget to catch up to Jesus.
Today, just one week later the governor’s of several states announced their intent to let the shelter-in-place orders for their respective states expire on April 30th. In Georgia, my home state, Governor Brian Kemp declared that businesses such as hair salons and barbers, gyms, bowling alley’s and body art studios may reopen as early as this Friday. Churches may also resume in-person worship.
Immediately my text messages began pinging, my social media feeds began buzzing, fellow clergy began texting and members began calling. My immediate reaction was disbelief, quickly followed by anger then the flood of questions. After all, people are still dying. There’s no cure in sight and testing is still woefully inadequate. We have just gotten virtual worship and bible study figured out (kind of) and now we have to figure this out? How do we resume in-person worship when the danger and risk are still so great? What happened to my Sabbath? When will I get to grieve my personal losses? How long, Lord? How long until this ends? I’m being transparent because I don’t think I’m not the only one for whom thoughts of “re-opening outside” are stressful. I want to honor our frustration and grief, and name our feelings of dislocation.
As I struggled to wrap my mind around the possibilities, I discerned God telling me “Don’t Jump.”
- Don’t jump on the bandwagon and think you MUST do anything now.
- Don’t jump into crisis mode and start over functioning again.
- Don’t jump into fielding calls and answering text messages before you consult with God.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. The world needs our open hearts and open minds.
- Don’t jump into a scarcity mindset. They will know us by the abundance of our hearts.
- Don’t jump to the beat of the sirens song of the urgent, and forsake what’s really important.
- Don’t jump at the opportunity to follow. You are called to lead.
- Don’t jump to return to business as usual, run ahead and catch up with Jesus.
- Don’t react to the ever-changing news. Reimagine then respond faithfully.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, said in a press conference that his goal was “Not just reopen, reimagine.” While I don’t want to debate politics, I do think that’s a great perspective to remember in the weeks ahead. The crisis we face is ever evolving. There is no end in sight.
- The time to rest in the presence of God is now.
- The time to catch up with Jesus is now.
- The time to discern and reimagine is now.
- The time to be still and know that God is God, is now.
- The time to be faithful is now.
Whatever you do, don’t jump!