No nation has been spared as the novel coronavirus came onto the global scene like a tsunami. Some have likened the ‘Circuit Breaker’, the nation’s comprehensive stay-home notice for all Singaporeans, as a time of confinement.
A confinement is traditionally associated with a mother recuperating from childbirth. It’s during this period that her strength is given time to renew, and her body to revert to its original state. And, if any thought that things would return to normal post-confinement period of 7 April to 1 June, we all now agree that things are never going to be the same for quite some time, even as we’re now in ‘safe transition’ Phase 2.
Resilience is key as we see the goalposts shift. And it isn’t just here in Singapore, millions are battling a loss of normalcy in their daily lives and the goalposts never shift in the direction that you want them to. Being quick to adapt, lead, and make adjustments coupled with uncertainty and unpredictability can be one’s worst nightmare.
“My mom is a domestic worker, so she has stopped working,” Valerie said. “As it’s going to be the month-end, and they’ve been home the whole month, I’m not sure if she will get paid. That’s my worry – if they’re going to be able to survive the next month of this lockdown.”
Another commented, “Never in my life would I have thought I would get it. This virus doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, young or old. I could be out for a walk, and I wouldn’t know if the person beside me has it.”
As a church and believers in Christ, how have we adapted to this very fast-changing landscape and what is God doing in our midst?
Our beliefs in times of quarantine will challenge our concepts of what it means to minister and fellowship. There have been increased opportunities to reach a wider audience, and for many others, there have been opportunities to sample sermons from afar.
We’ve adjusted to new ways of life and relationships, much of it aided by modern technology. We actively engage our community, identifying a new emphasis on the collective need through Cornerstone Cares, Pastoral Care and Services programmes, and Cell Ministry to manage a new way of living.
Perhaps unknowingly, we’re changing the blueprint for how we live our lives in future via a vast range of virtual social programmes besides our online worship services. We’ve found innovative ways to communicate with people at a distance and have witnessed an encouraging sense of community.
However, an increased audience has inversely resulted in less active participation as congregants are much less involved in physically serving than before by watching church services online.
Will this ‘new normal’, with the convenience of worshipping at home in front of the television or a tablet remove volunteerism and stop people from returning to active participation and church attendance after the Covid-19 pandemic?
When the opportunity allows us to come together as a congregation, we must desire to return physically. I miss the gathering to worship our God together and can’t wait to return, even if it means no singing for now or smaller meeting numbers. Our worship to God includes more than singing – it’s a consecration to come together, a commitment to meet as one. We also look forward to meeting many new people who might have been unchurched and visiting because they had visited us via online services.
What will the ‘new normal’ of worshipping together look like until this Covid-19 crisis is over?
While uncertainties continue with the possibility of a second upsurge in cases as seen in some countries which had to re-impose former restrictions, we’ll abide by necessary measures put in place. Usual common practices may no longer be appropriate, like the way we greet each other verbally. Youth services and Children’s Church must take different platforms and yet retain personal interaction.
Meeting for coffee and tea for fellowship between worship and Sunday School within the facility would not be possible, especially during this ‘new normal’. And, online worship will continue as we begin to physically gather in smaller numbers for a start.
In this ‘new normal’, we thank God that He has kept us in a good place. But let’s believe together and pray for this crisis to end soon and that this ‘new normal’ will not be the norm for the church. Ps 16:5-8 is a beautiful display of God’s promises to us, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
And of this one thing we can be sure, God is on His throne and, since the Church is God’s idea, He will work His works through her. Praise the Lord!