Greetings Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus.
You cannot over do Thank You, so once again I say Thank You for who you are and all you are doing to face the unwelcome crisis caused by the Coronavirus. I know you will continue to do all you can to stay connected to God and neighbor even as you participate in "flattening the curve."
Throughout this season there have been references to adapting to our current crisis driven reality. It is not lost on me that some adaptations and changes are hard and others are simple. We lean into some and have to be dragged into others. What's easy for you may be difficult and even distasteful for me. Defining events and a fresh vision for opportunity have always precipitated change and called for fresh approaches to life for the individual, for families and communities, institutions and nations.
So a few thoughts about change occur to me.
We are not the first personally or otherwise and we won't be the last to face uninvited causes to adapt. In fact if we see this through the lens of the biblical record and our Wesleyan heritage people of faith and the church specifically have more often had to adapt in order to keep moving forward. Where the church has resisted needed change (not change for the sake of change) it has stumbled if not utterly failed. Where the church has leaned into change for the sake of the mission of the church it has more often than not discovered a life that would have otherwise not been available to it.
We are adapting now because we are backs against the wall and it is "adapt or die". As we adapt we are discovering that we are not alone but are deeply connected and finding new energy from resourcing one another. As well I contend that we are learning a new reliance upon the triune God. I don't know about you but my feeds are exploding with resources to assist me in redeeming this time. Some come from organizations that I never heard of, others from trusted institutions and others still from friends and acquaintances. We really do have everything we need to take the next faithful step.
All change and adaptation does not have to be borne of crisis. When we ask God to help us see with missional eyes it is amazing where we are led and how we will act. For at over 20 years my missional text from Holy Scripture has been 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Against the backdrop of the scourge of the Atlantic slave trade James Russel Lowell in his timeless "The Present Crisis" penned in part these words: "New occasions teach new duties; time make ancient good uncouth...".
Yours in Christ Jesus,
+Gregory V. Palmer