A Pastoral Response to COVID-19
by Rev Dr Malcolm Tan
Covenant Community Methodist Church
COVID-19 and the circuit measures have created a situation which has come on us suddenly, taking many of us by surprise. But I believe that it didn't take God by surprise. In fact, the Almighty was the One Who permitted it.
Remember Daniel 2:21? God changes times and seasons. God also gives wisdom and knowledge. Indeed, COVID-19 may be God declaring to humanity that He is sovereign over the affairs of men and women, that now is the time when we should humble ourselves before the Almighty. COVID-19 declares to us the sovereignty of God over the pretence of human sovereignty and autonomy apart from the Almighty. I believe that this situation must bring us to our knees before our Maker and Ruler. Hence, this situation has revealed to us our limitations. It has also forced us to practice 'social distancing' against our own preferences, bringing us to a place in our lives where we have to be still and be quiet although we have many more things to do every day. Hopefully, it will create a place in our souls where we learn to be still before the Lord (Psa 46:10). I think that the Lord is bringing us before Him in this way before He allows us to proceed to the next phase. The worse thing for us to do now, as a church, is to be like the disciples before they realised that Jesus rose from the dead: living in fear behind locked doors! (John 20:19) We must prepare to bounce back after this season of COVID-19, even if we have to wait for some time to do so. In the meantime, we should not intentionally create such a sense of crisis where we feel that we are so overwhelmed that we cannot carry on and that we should now start thinking of shutting things down for CCMC. This is the time to find strength from God, to have resilience from Him. We must function as the Body of Christ for the Lord, our community and the world for whom Christ died, despite all external limitations. We must still be the Church whatever the restrictions are during this circuit breaker and the post-circuit-breaker 'new normal'. Hence, I am encouraged by the fact that our leaders and pastoral staff have truly risen to the challenge. Praise God! Alpha courses as outreach continues by Zoom with pre-believers joining. Small group ministry, D&N classes, CK sessions, prayer meetings, Men and Women's Ministries all still carry on by Zoom. Praise the Lord! Very few are using this situation to shut things down. Our Pastoral Team Members, encouraged by our Lay Leader, have been trying to contact by telephone those who came to CCMC on Sundays during the recent contact tracing days. Even our humble attempts to reach out to the Korean and Japanese communities connected to CCMC have carried on quietly despite artificial external restrictions. Indeed, we must share Jesus with the unreached and those hard to reach.
We also thank God that CCMC has been able to continue having worship service using pre-recorded broadcasts reaching as many of our members and friends as possible. This has kept the Church community together despite the suspension of physical worship services. We appreciate all volunteers that have made this possible.
Of course, our financial situation in CCMC is a little more challenging now. Thank God for our Finance Committee Chairperson and LCEC Chairperson. We are learning to carry on as much as possible although with less funding. The Lord remains our Help. I think this 'new normal' will persist for some time to come. So what have I to share with our CCMC congregation and friends? We still must have Hope. We don't know when this COVID-19 will end. But we can be sure that this situation will eventually end. Things like this have happened before in history. God allows us to live another day in order to be prepared for another season of growth. Indeed, our times are in His hands. Let us take Gal 6:9 as our point of reference: 'Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up'. Amen.
May those who have ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches!