How can People of Faith be the Church when Quarantined?
Published in the Fall/Winter Edition of All About Seniors
BY: Brenda F. Atkinson, M.Div.; C.T.
Continuing Care Coordinator
Thomas McAfee Funeral Homes
As I am writing this article, the world is experiencing a pandemic. Thousands have died and a million plus are infected. We are quarantined to our homes with many working from home. Restaurants have closed, people have lost their jobs with no way to provide for their families. Children are out of school and parents are now the teachers. Colleges and universities have closed their campuses. Others, however, are working. Our healthcare workers, first responders, firemen/women, truck drivers, grocery store workers, pharmacy workers, funeral home personnel and clergy, are doing what needs to be done for the greater good, knowing full well the risk.
The world is grieving because love ones have died or are infected with this COVD-19. What can I do? When faced with a decision, I go to the Bible to find inspiration. In Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (NIV) Can we bring comfort when we are practicing physical distancing?
“Be the light” is a phrase that keeps coming to my mind! Just how do I accomplish this Lord when I am quarantined? The Book of James is referred to as “Faith at Work” so what better book to look to find answers. Two scripture verses jumped out at me.
James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (NIV)
James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)
No interpretation is needed. “Do what it says.” ‘…. look after the orphans and widows in their distress’ and do not let the world pollute you’” Words for such a time as this! In the margin of my Spiritual Formation Bible was the following quote.
Be the light to someone who feels they are in the dark.
“A rabbi asked the question of his disciples, “When do we know that light has appeared out of darkness?” One student answered, “When we can tell the difference between a dog and a lamb?” “No,” said the rabbi. Another student answered, “When we can tell the difference between a palm tree and a fig tree? “No” said the rabbi. “When, then, do we know?” the disciples asked their teacher. “We know that light has appeared out of darkness when someone can look in the face of any human being and see the face of a sister or brother.”
(The Spiritual Formation Bible, NIV, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p.1613)
One of the phrases that I have heard during this time; “We are all in this together!” Are we, really? Do you and I really see the faces of sisters or brothers? Only you and I can answer this question. Maybe we all need to take an inventory of our actions over the past few weeks! Have I been a light to someone who feels they are in the dark?
Have I been a light to:
- Someone who is grieving
- Someone who is caring for a homebound family member or friend, asking how I can help
- Healthcare workers (Doctors, Nurses, CNAs, Social Workers, Chaplains, Techs, Security and First Responders) and the Funeral Home Personnel during this pandemic
- My neighbors praying for their safety and health
- My Pastoral Staff, to let them know I appreciate how they continue to help me stay focused on God and His faithfulness
- The homeless and prayed for their safety and health?
The Church is not the building! The church is the people of God wherever we are, even when quarantined. In the quietness of your home listen for a word from God to direct you to someone who feels they are in the dark and be the LIGHT!
Brenda Atkinson joined the McAfee staff in 2008 and serves as the Continuing Care Coordinator. She received a M. Div from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a BS in Human Resources from Southern Wesleyan University. Brenda has completed four units in Clinical Pastoral education. She is certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). She served as Hospice Chaplain for three years and as minister of education to adults and singles for 15 years. Brenda leads support groups for the grieving and speaks at churches and civic events. 864-232-6733 email@example.com