What has changed for you over the last few weeks? Jay Webster, Bob and Shari’s son, teaches at Sage Middle School, and obviously he’s been in a different mode these days since his classes have moved out of the classroom to distance education. Keri, his sister, was sharing that he was grateful that he had been able to spend so much time with his newborn daughter and her brother. For those of you who have been teachers, you know that you often end up spending a lot of time with other people’s kids, and not so much your own. Jay realized that even with the challenges presented to his occupation, there was a blessing laced into the situation, too.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”   John 13:1

      In an ordinary world, we would be having Love Feast this Thursday evening. In the tradition of the Church, the Thursday before Easter—Maundy Thursday—is reserved for the commemoration of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The Church of the Brethren—holding to the deep authority of Scripture—has always taken Jesus words in John 13:8 pretty seriously: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Whether you want to take these words of Jesus literally, or search for a more symbolic meaning, that’s up to you. But the reality is that the washing of feet has had a powerful place in the liturgy of the Church since the beginning.

So, we’ve been in “stay at home” mode for a few weeks, now.  Some of us are still getting out and about, performing essential duties.  But there’s no denying that our regular patterns have been suspended.  Even if we haven’t needed to adapt that much personally, we’re still interacting in a world that has changed profoundly over the last few months.  We’re all trying to get used to a “new normal” when “normal” changes every few days.  One thing that’s becoming clear is that when this virus finally runs its course, and we come out from under our rocks, we’re going to enter a different world than the one we inhabited at the end of last year.  2020 is going to change things.

The past couple weeks have offered us a lot to think about in terms of what it means to be Christians in a turbulent world.  Those who study such things talk about continuous change and discontinuous change—the former being situations that shift in predictable ways, the latter defined by its essential unpredictability.  Sociologists have identified the time we live in as one distinguished by discontinuous change, and the recent societal response to the coronavirus is textbook discontinuous.  The phrase “unprecedented” is getting a little shopworn with overuse.  But the reality is that we’re in uncharted waters, and the shore is far from sight.

I had intended to offer you the final installment of Dr Matt Bloom’s work on flourishing in communities that care for each other, but I believe Dr Bloom will have to wait.  At the risk of adding one more communication to the pile we’re all buried in, I want to talk about our current situation as we face the spread of the Coronavirus.