We’re socially isolated. We can’t gather in groups. We’re working from home. We can’t even go to church. How are Christians meant to express their faith in these strange days of COVID-19? It’s tough, I agree, but there are plenty of ways to love your neighbours, even during lockdown. Here’s 35 simple ways to love your neighbour as yourself, even at a distance.
Twenty-five years ago, I began warning the church about its overemphasis on “attractional” strategies — that is, the come-to-us stance taken by many churches influenced by the church growth movement back then. I wasn’t the only one, I know. Other voices made similar pleas, urging church leaders to resist the temptation to become more like marketers and less like missionaries. But it was difficult for some people to hear our cry. They had been shaped by an ecclesiology that emphasized numerical growth over all else. And they had come to believe that to grow a church you needed the right-sized building, in the right area, with ample parking, and friendly parking lot attendants.
On the 23rd of March, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold in the USA, Scott McMillan, a Californian attorney, replied to one of President Donald Trump’s tweets, saying, “The fundamental problem is whether we are going to tank the entire economy to save 2.5% of the population which is (1) generally expensive to maintain, and (2) not productive.” Did you get that? He was referring to the elderly Americans most likely to die from Covid-19, and was encouraging the president to disregard their impending deaths in order to save the US economy. They’re old and useless and a drain on the economy anyway, McMillan suggests. It begs the question, how much is an older person’s life worth?
A time for chocolate eggs and hot cross buns and hat parades. The sentimentality of Easter can be comforting. Cute bunnies and chicks bursting from eggs conjure thoughts about new life and fresh hope. And preachers can play into it. Easter becomes a time when they’re often reminding us to invite Jesus into our hearts. Sermons are full of references to God’s love and personal forgiveness and fresh starts. But that’s not exactly how the first Christians talked about the Easter event. For the first Christians, the good news was less Here Comes Peter Cottontail and more like Game of Thrones. I’ll give you some examples.
I have a 60-year-old sister named Joanne. She lives with an intellectual disability. It used to annoy me when people asked me what Jo’s “mental age” was. It’s not as simple as saying she’s like a six-year-old or an eight-year-old. She lives in a group home near me, catches public transport, works at a social firm (what used to be called a “sheltered workshop”), uses a cell phone and mucks around on the internet, all things adults do. But she also likes playing with dolls, coloring books, and she has a vivid fantasy life.