I have found myself thinking back often to Winston Churchill’s description of WWII as, “a time to try men’s souls.” It often feels like the world is on trial these days. To make it worse, we can’t physically be in one another’s presence—so this scary time is compounded by profound isolation for all of us.
And yet. Our persistent tradition always seems to have something to say and something to teach us. The still, small voice of calm is audible enough if we can quiet the news and our minds. Jesus Christ “the master of the sea” still says “Be still!” to the chaos and orders the peace that passes all understanding. He enters our locked rooms and declares, “Peace be with you.”
Living under the restrictions has been an opportunity to gain new insight into what it really means to be the Church. We use that word, “church” probably too much on its own to describe a church building. Because, the Church, the Body of Christ, is us. We, the people, are the Church, whom God has called to mission and ministry. We can weather anything, because the church’s record in regard to large scale disaster—persecution, plague—is actually rather good. The Body of Christ can and will continue, because our history informs that we can, and Jesus promises that we will. It is down to the persistent belief in God and ourselves that we can both survive and stabilize our surroundings.
That has meant, however, in the current situation, getting creative. The canons of the Cathedral continue to meet for the offices, but via Microsoft Teams and while remaining at home (and I get to tag along). The Cathedral has continued to offer an opportunity for weekly worship on Sunday morning by sharing a pre-recorded video on our new blog created to keep us all connected: prayerforliverpool.org. I’ve had the continuing pleasure of collating the daily post by one of the Clergy clergy for this blog and sharing it on the Cathedral’s Facebook Page. It has been heartening to see the appreciation for the digital resources the Canons offered throughout Holy Week. MICAH Liverpool have also been creative in complying with social distancing regulations while continuing to run the Food Bank. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity of continuing to help packing food parcels on Thursdays.
The Church of which Jesus Christ is the head has always had the ability to adapt to new situations in which she may find herself. Church history as a whole could be considered a balancing act between inherited tradition and the discernment of the new. But the Church in all things is inspired by the Holy Spirit, maintaining the stability of the witness and worship of Christ who is the be all, end all—literally.
We can take solace in that stability. We can continue to pray and consider Scripture and let Jesus guide our lives, just as we would before. Our prayers both connect us to the Divine, but to the centuries’ worth of other souls who have lifted their lives to the Crucified One, who promises us His presence to the very end. While isolated, we aren’t ever alone.
A time like now demands our witness. But this pandemic is also a reminder that the only stability we can really trust is Christ’s. We have the opportunity now to live into the interplay of world chaos and Christly order. Our call is to discern and act on the part we can play towards bringing about the holy order of God. But more importantly, we must let Christ speak to the world that is sick, in pain, and dying. As God’s church, Christ becomes present when we act in his name. And we will soon realize that we’re not doing our own work, but God’s.
Thanks for reading this update on my missionary blog! I’m a missionary of The Episcopal Church, serving in Liverpool, UK. Make sure to subscribe at the bottom of the home page to get an email when I next post an update. God bless, and thank you!
Eager to read more? Check out the “Meet the YASCers” page of the website of the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) of the Episcopal Church to find the blogs of my missionary colleagues: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/YASC/meet-yascers.