Mark 3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Jesus made the religious authorities crazy because of his obvious anointing by God yet his regular challenging of the Mosaic law. What’s more important: the healing or the rules? Jesus chose healing, which probably strikes you and me as obvious, but was not obvious in Jesus’ day.
Social distancing is challenging the church right now in some interesting ways. In my Lutheran tradition much of what we’ve learned and practiced has involved the “gathering of the baptized”, particularly as it relates to our practice of worship and the sacraments. Now that we are forced to hold services online we’re connecting with people from all over the place, not just from our immediate community. Given the fact we are looking at continuing this practice for several more weeks, at least, some interesting questions emerge.
- How do we fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus in a time of social distancing?
- What does the appropriate administration of the sacraments (holy communion and baptism) look like in a virtual setting?
- What does church “membership” mean to someone who may be participating in multiple virtual worship experiences on a regular basis?
- How do we offer pastoral care in a time when physical presence is so restricted?
- Will people continue to join us virtually once restrictions are lifted and the familiar Sunday time conflicts resume?
I could go on, but you get the idea. Right now we’re being confronted with questions we’ve never had to ask before, so it’s a challenge. An adaptive challenge rather than a technical one. It will be interesting to see where this goes. All I know for sure is that the church is being remade in real-time.
Lord Jesus, help us to navigate these uncharted waters. Amen.