Dear Members and Friends of The Vine Fellowship Church:
It seems so long ago and yet it was only on Wednesday, March 11th that, somewhere around 1 p.m., I received my first email asking if we needed to cancel the Copley Chamber of Commerce meeting that meets at our church/ The HUB, the second Thursday each month (we were to meet the next day). That started emails, not only from the Copley Chamber Board (that I serve as Vice-President and moderate the board meetings), but emails from our church leadership; the elders from the United Presbyterian Church, Cuyahoga Falls, for whom I serve as the moderator of their Session (Elder Board); and emails from my two cousins, as we are the ones that have been planning a family reunion weekend in May. How quickly things have changed as our church’s Worship Team, on March 12th started discussing how we were going to move forward serving Communion in April with the threat of the Coronavirus, to a few of us novices gathering to livestream a modified worship service beginning Sunday, March 15th because we had shut down all church and HUB gatherings. I cannot even count the number of emails, text messages, and phone calls I have been fielding between the two churches, the Copley Chamber of Commerce, family and friends.
With this edition of our newsletter I probably should be writing about Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Good Friday and the Resurrection Day. But, given what continues to unfold with COVID-19, I thought it was apropos to share something that the late, great C. S. Lewis wrote 72 years ago. This deadly and serious global pandemic has become a reality right down the street from where I live at one of our area nursing homes. Lewis’s words ring true today with relevance as we try to live in these trying times.
As one writer, reflecting on Lewis’s words said, “Lewis’s words are misapplied if taken to mean that COVID-19 is no big deal or shouldn’t disrupt life in any way. The reminder for us now—albeit in a different scenario seen decades later—is this: The threat of death is serious, but it’s never novel. So, let’s not succumb to panic. Let’s not allow fear to dominate our minds and paralyze our hearts. Let’s keep living and laughing and serving and enjoying those we love (yes, even if from a necessary distance!). Because a good King is on the throne, we need not be slaves to fear.” As you read what Lewis wrote, just replace “atomic bomb” with “Coronavirus.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays
May the Lord of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Good Friday and His glorious Resurrection Day, give us all what we need for these days and may we praise Him and share the marvelous news that on Easter, Jesus rose from the grave. Never forget what Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Yours in Christ and on the Journey together,