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The Coronavirus Diaries: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed

The Coronavirus Diaries: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed

Wednesday September 2 2020

Sandra Reis is General Secretary of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal

In the local cemetery, I was facing 10 people crying in front of the casket.

Their pain was overflowing. Not only because of their loved one’s death, but because of an illness present elsewhere, this wife, mother, grandmother, died alone in the hospital, and now all of the people I was facing were crying alone. No family, no friends, no neighbours were there sharing their grief - the rules say that only 10 people are allowed at funerals. At a distance, two old women, with flowers in their hands were trying to go unnoticed, as they cried for their lifetime friend. Everyone felt the cruelty of death and was feeling alone.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live as human beings: how we bury our dead, how we care for our elderly, how we educate the new generation, how we act as human beings.

Life goes on, and nowadays it almost seems natural not to see each other’s faces, to assume that today someone will have died from Covid, no hugging, no handshakes… but the void is growing inside of us.

On Sundays, churches are filled with people wearing masks, doubt, and anxiety.

What is our mission? In this world that has changed in just months, has the mission of the church changed as well? Not really. The mission has not changed: time with God has not been cancelled. Prayer for the sick is not prohibited. The contact with friends and family remains just a phone call away. Helping others is still available and with no limits. Feeding the hungry is allowed. Being a Church, living in faith and gratitude is not prohibited. So here we are, fighting the good fight. In a different world, but with the same mission:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4: 18-19)

As I was writing these words, I remembered an old hymn I once heard in a Church of Scotland Assembly. These old words are crucial to face this new era:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

The Coronavirus Diaries: updates and reflections from Church of Scotland partners around the world

World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'