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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

The Gift of COVID-19

The line was longer than usual.

Three people stood in front of me; careful to keep at least 6-feet of space between us. Their faces reflected irritation.

Observing each of them, as the cashier kindly placed their limited supplies in bags with gloved hands, I was surprised at what I heard. Each shopper unleashed their fury upon the clerk.

“This is ridiculous. I can’t find anything in this store,” one customer shouted!

As I approached with my limited items, I noticed a tear slowly making its way down the cashier’s cheek. “I’m sorry,” she said. It’s been like this all day.”

“You didn’t deserve those remarks. This Coronavirus mess must be horrible for you,” I said. “Thank you. It’s been tough,” she responded.

It may be difficult for us to see anything that’s positive related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). With all the annoyance, anxiety, and adjustments caused by one virus, it’s easy to overlook the blessings.

I’m not apathetic.

Like many of my friends, I’m also concerned about the spread of this virus. I care about how this pandemic is affecting us. I’m also responsible to wash my hands, sanitize, and be considerate of others.

But I don’t want to overlook the blessing.

Like other ministries, churches, and businesses, we’re also following the recommendations of Federal, State, and City authorities. Discover Hope remains active, but we have “temporarily” closed our offices.

We’re discovering how valuable and blessed we are to have technology that keeps us connected while practicing social respect by physically distancing ourselves from each other.

Churches are “live streaming” worship to their parishioners. As one person stated, “The church has been forced out of the building.” Is that not a blessing? Think about that for a moment.

It’s easy to become comfortable with the “normal routine” of the church. We assemble, offer praise and worship, pray, hear a message, and leave.

It’s much more convenient for me to have the worship team and pastor do the heavy lifting of worship. But now, my worship must become more intentional. It requires me to engage with God—outside the building.

Is it possible that being forced out of the church building reminds us that we—not the building,—are the CHURCH?

Yes, it bothers me to see the troubled faces of our clerks and employees in stores and restaurants forced to close. I’m not oblivious to the alarm of people wondering how they will pay their bills. It disturbs me that older adults in care facilities are now—even further—separated from loved ones.

However, in my concerns, I do not want to avoid seeing the blessings.

I admit it was equally frustrating for me not to secure the groceries that we needed that day. But that incident in the grocery store allowed me to observe how this virus is impacting people.

It’s not only our physical well-being that is at risk. We must also safeguard our emotions.

I smiled at the cashier, thanked her for her assistance, and catching her eye, I said; “God’s peace be with you.” Her face brightened, and she smiled warmly: “And peace to you,” she echoed.

At that moment, I recognized: the CHURCH is present, even in an empty-shelved grocery store.

Although some individuals are raiding stores with apocalyptic fever, each of us has the opportunity to be caring, kind, and gracious.

Amid our angst, we must love, care, encourage, support, and bless others. A generous tip, a caring smile, and a heartfelt thank you are gifts of grace and kindness that go a long way.

Our merchants, health-care givers, and first-responders are going above and beyond the call of duty. As the CHURCH—in or out of the building—we must reflect Christ to our community. At all times—and everywhere—we are to bless, extend grace, mercy, kindness, and love to those who risk on our behalf.

My frustration does not permit me to forget—or neglect—that I am the CHURCH. I am Christ’s representative. How I respond will be seen as either a blessing or a disgrace.

The Coronavirus has transformed our “normal” into “abnormal.” It’s also given us a blessing to bless others in Christ’s Name.

As many of us are adjusting to a time of quarantine, let’s continue to stay connected, encouraging each other.

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