More than just a cliché

This has been a very interesting year as 2020 started on a relatively positive note but abruptly did an about face. Virtually everything from the economy to the country’s food supply and every major enterprise has been adversely affected by an unexpected culprit. Beginning the first quarter of the year, there were “silent alarms” that should have sent shockwaves clear around the world.

Unfortunately, not enough was done in the wake of preliminary information disseminated concerning an unknown predator that would later wreak havoc upon the entire world’s population. What soon became known as COVID-19 proved a formidable foe that has to this point taken the lives of more than three hundred and fourteen thousand (314,000) people in the United States alone. Millions more have been infected by this crippling virus that has without question altered the lives and affected the livelihoods of individuals throughout the world.

The U.S. government has again been compelled to increase the national debt ceiling and financially assist citizens by handing out checks (the amount of which still hadn’t been resolved as of last week) to keep the country afloat. In many areas, it has become difficult to obtain even the basic necessities as required for carrying on daily life.

Of course the primary consideration for much of the Christian and entrepreneurial population this time of year is the ever-enticing Christmas shopping season. Observance of the holiday is something to which followers of Christ look forward as it generally means gathering with family and friends to observe the occasion. There are typically social gatherings such as office and company parties, as well as holiday and year-end sales events at most every retailer.

This year, however, things have turned out to be a lot different since consequences of the on-going pandemic and sustained health care concerns have more-or-less negated the general concept of any mass gatherings. With the economic uncertainty that has resulted, many smaller companies and businesses have closed or been swallowed-up by larger, more financially diversified enterprises. Factually speaking, the fall-out has caused a drastic economic down-turn that has the majority of our country’s population uncertain of what to expect.

For many people, their reaction to the current health scare has been to embark upon a quest to grow closer to the Lord; to seek a spiritual connection. In some cases, individuals who’ve strayed away from the church or lost interest in their quest for growth have found new reason to actively engage…even if only virtually.

Reason would have one to understand the Lord is, perhaps, saying to His children that it’s time to come from behind the church walls. It’s no longer about who has the larger building or number on the membership ledger. In fact, during the days of the early church there weren’t any monumental structures and huge congregations. People simply met in small groups to worship at the home of a fellow parishioner each week. There was no such thing as a deacon or deaconess board, no maintenance or sanctuary committee, no building and grounds committees or any of the other distractions to interfere with a person’s desire to truly worship God.

Church today has, in many cases, been reduced to little more than a large social or civic organization with each wanting to have “better, bigger” stuff than the next. It’s almost like an unspoken competition wherein one church has to have a larger building and membership; produce, collect, and do more than the next.

In the current situation, it’s almost as though God is saying, “Okay, time has passed for the foolery of man so let’s get back to the basics of My business.” As such, the pandemic has prevented people from gathering in large numbers, no focus being placed on the church’s appearance, and more parishioners actually being reached and benefitting from the messages. His concern isn’t so much about the color of the curtains, recovering the pews, or purchasing a church van but the condition of souls and the message of salvation. To say Jesus is the reason for the season should be more than just a catchy cliché but have deeper meaning.

To pose a question or share your opinion, you can reach B. G. Howard at bw3bh@yahoo.com or P. O. Box 8103, Jacksonville, FL 32239.