Together In Our Solitude: The Power of “One Spirit” During COVID-19

One faith.

One Lord.

One baptism.

One body.

One Spirit.

I never knew the power of these phrases from Ephesians 2 until we were forced to shelter in place. But these inspired words have been infused with new meaning for our local church bodies. The power of “one Spirit” bringing us together in our solitude brought a smile to my face last week.

The tone on the other end of the line sounded again and I wondered how I could get their correct phone number. But suddenly, this time, a cheery voice came through on the other end.

“Hello, Jane?” I inquired.

“Oh, Pastor Tim, how wonderful to hear your voice!”

I had been trying to get ahold of the elderly couple who had recently moved to town. I was worried they would think no one from their new church cared. I wondered about their health. Was her husband’s heart ok?

Jane assured me they were fine. “We pray regularly for the church prayer requests you have been e-mailing,” she shared. “And we pray for you and your precious wife and kids every day.”

That’s when it hit me. One Spirit.

My concern for Jane and her husband was eclipsed by their daily prayers for me and my family. Because we share the same Holy Spirit, we are together in our solitude.

We are only a prayer away from strengthening hearts and impacting eternity.

The Spirit binds us even when we are apart. The Spirit works in our lives even when we are not physically in each other’s lives. The Spirit ministers in each person when I only wish I could minister in person.

Because of the power of the Spirit’s ministry, we are together in our solitude.

One faith.

One Lord.

One baptism.

One body.

One Spirit.

Even far apart.

 

Easter Was Made For a Time Like This

This article appeared in our local paper, The Manchester Journal, and also at the Baptist Convention of New England blog.

We are living in a time in which we are desperate for good news. We are all reading this hunkered down in our homes under the looming specter of disaster. We feel the state of emergency, and we see it with our eyes. It is on the signs on every business door and on faces everywhere we look. The mood has changed in our community, as friends or neighbors who might happen to see each other outside now talk from a distance. Anyone who dares to venture out to buy groceries notices the absence of the laughter of children. We worry about our elderly relatives and neighbors, even as we try to help them, all the while hoping we are not putting them at greater risk. We wince when we check the latest statistics on confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. We wonder how long this will go on. Oh, how desperately we need good news.

Just when we think the low-grade stress of trying to hide from an invisible enemy is getting unbearable, we hear of another cancellation of an event we had looked forward to for months. We know it is the right thing to do, and we might even feel guilty for wishing it wasn’t so, but we mourn our old lives nonetheless. As a parent, I am joining moms and dads all across the world who have to explain to their kids why their favorite spring activities are canceled.

But as a pastor, I am joining pastors all across the world explaining to their congregations that Easter is not canceled.

No, we are not physically meeting. But Easter is not canceled because Easter was made to bring good news to a world that groans under the strain of more bad news. Easter was made for a time like this.

Jesus’ disciples were crushed after Jesus’ death on the cross. They were confused. But when the report of the empty tomb reached them, and when Jesus himself stood in front of them again so much alive that they could touch him and watch him eat, his earlier words flooded back. Right before he had raised Lazarus from the dead they had heard him proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) Now they understood that Jesus’ resurrection was the guarantee of their resurrection. It sealed his promise of eternal life for those who would believe in him.

Some say the resurrection is a time of celebration of new life, as if it is nothing more than a celebration of Spring. Certainly the fact that it took place during a time of new life on earth is bursting with meaning. But if that is all it means, Easter is hollow. We need something more substantial. We need a resurrection.

As our church joins churches around the world during this historic Easter, celebrating the resurrection for the first time virtually and not physically gathered, our joy will be no less. We will wish it was different. We may shed tears of loss and heartbreak. But we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with joy because we know that in his conquering of death, he has promised to make all things new. The Bible looks forward to a day when fear and abuse and hunger and loneliness and viruses will all die, never to raise their ugly heads again. And in their demise, a new heaven and a new earth will be created, a place that believers in King Jesus were made to live in with their resurrection bodies. 

This is good news. This is why Easter was made for a time like this. And because of Easter, because of Jesus, I invite you to make this best of news your news.