An interesting development from the coronavirus pandemic has occurred in Delhi, India. Delhi is a city of nearly 20 million people suffering from some of the worst air pollution in the world. Since going into lockdown, air quality there has improved so much that young children are seeing blue skies and evening stars for the first time. Others report more startling discoveries, including a man who claimed to see aliens walking around on Mars. My compliments to his optometrist!
The unplanned “time-out” created by this crisis invites us to see what’s not always apparent. Consider those things we take for granted. Recently, most of us have known a bit of inconvenience at the grocery store, as we’ve not always been able to find every item on our list. Not finding what you need can be a dislocating experience, but it’s a way of life for too many people on planet earth. An economy that produces profitable luxuries while many lack basic necessities falls short of God’s intention. Can we see that any better now?
The truth about our mortality has also become evident. Covid-19 has struck not only the vulnerable, but many others in the prime of life. No one wishes to be morbid, but we do well to acknowledge that every day is God’s gift and that no tomorrow is guaranteed. Christians are called to live not with a sense of a fear, but with a disposition of gratitude, humility, and responsibility. We’re welcome to offer our best to God and others today, instead of waiting for a better tomorrow.
This season also brings an opportunity to see the church more clearly. We usually think of a congregation in terms of place or structure. But forced separation has reminded us that the Christian church consists of more than we can see with our eyes. It’s a greater-than-human creation inspired and sustained by the presence of God. That’s the only reason the church has endured over centuries of persecution, hardship, and human failure. We honor the wonder of the church when we nurture the relationships at its heart, while continuing to be a public and concrete community for good.