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The Coronavirus Diaries: The 'Covid and Beyond' Church

Wednesday March 17

The Rev Najla Kassab, President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, says Covid-19 has created a time of envisioning for churches.


We are in the season of Lent.

This is a time to contemplate Jesus' experience on the way towards the cross. The coronavirus, with all the challenges it brought, has pushed us to reflect and contemplate on our reality, to sit at home and meditate on what God wants from us. Probably many of us have never used our couches as much or had time to sit with our families and reflect on our daily decisions and priorities.
  
I have lived most of my life in war, but what we have experienced during the outbreak of the coronavirus has had a different impact from all that we have suffered in the past. I wonder to myself, what is different about our coronavirus challenge today? Why are we more troubled than before; even during the calamity of war?
 
The story in Mark 14:3-9, of the woman who poured very expensive ointment on Jesus' legs, and Jesus accepting this as more important than giving to the poor, is a challenging lesson for us. On the road to the crucifixion, Jesus posed a question about what is most important at times of suffering. Jesus’ teaching here does not seem consistent with his previous teaching: He calls his disciples for moment of reassessment, to embark on a journey of thinking and to renew their minds in a time of crisis. Jesus did not give an easy formula that applies in all circumstances. Rather, He invites us to discover the good news in the midst of pain, away from clichés and simple answers.

The coronavirus pushed us to find more relevant answers. It did not merely infect our bodies but even our human relations. Today our concerns are not merely related to health concerns, or fear of death, but the fear of isolation, building walls, separation and distancing as the new lifestyle.

Today we are looking forward to receiving the vaccines that will heal our bodies, but who will heal the practices and values that we learned during the time of  the coronavirus? Who will heal the way we will deal with our neighbour and break the walls built? Who will dare to be the Good Samaritan again and to return to be a worshipping community together under one roof? Who will dare to end our services with the phrase 'go to the world', not 'stay at home'?

The coronavirus shaped us to a become a new community where we are rediscovering the Good News with new ways and eyes. There will be no more simple easy answers. On this journey, we are learning how to be the church of today, who dares to enter the house of a leper, and to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in allowing us to be shaped anew, as the new church and the new Communion.  We await today to discover the new journey that God sends us to and to be the ‘Covid and Beyond’ church. The coronavirus confused us as individuals and communities but still it is a time to be shaped in a new way in the Potter's hands. This is a time of envisioning. 


The Rev Najla Abou Sawan Kassab is a minister in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, and president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches since 2017

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

Pakistan: Passing the Light
South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
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'