For two weeks in January I cared for my Covid-infected family without contracting the virus myself. We breathed the same air and ate at the same table, but somehow, I was not infected. Thursday of last week, I started having all the symptoms myself. Immediately I began quarantining from them, but both my wife Jill and youngest daughter Angel have now fallen sick as well.
We are now fighting our way through this terrible virus together. It feels like an invader is moving through our bodies trying to find a weakness to exploit.
Every day brings some strange new symptoms to work through. For the first two days I was completely bedridden with a debilitating headache. I spent another 24 hours in the hospital with chest pains. I’ve lost all sense of taste, smell, and appetite which has led me to lose eight pounds so far. Overall, I feel a sense of fatigue. Yet most frustratingly, I can’t get on a screen for more than a short period, or work through a complex creative flow.
These brief reflections, part of my spiritual discipline as a writer, are an attempt to document my experience of the virus, and what God is speaking to me in the midst. I realize some have little to no symptoms, while 2,500,000 others have lost their lives, including our own friends, family, and church members. Overall, I’m grateful that we seem to be experiencing something in between those extremes.
Yesterday was the first Sunday I took off in over 15 months. The first Sunday I was not preaching, leading, or producing a worship service. This does not mean I have not spent time with Jesus, prioritized family time, and taken Sabbath… it just means I have not taken a Sunday off.
Up until this global pandemic struck, Jill and I had established a healthy rhythm of advance and retreat. One of the new challenges of the digital frontier is the never-ending possibility of work. There are no boundaries in this nascent scenario. Any screen can be an access point to work, any time.
As I lay in my Covidian Tomb, I’m joyfully watching our team of lay leaders step into their anointing and gifts. They planted a Living Room Church, which now has 1200 members, and carried on worship services without missing a beat. Does the “priesthood of all believers” really work? Yes, jump into the LRC and see for yourself.
This is deeply affirming of my conviction for lay-driven ministry. I’ve never been surer that the greatest thing a pastor can do is create space for lay people to use their gifts… and let go.
They are coming alive as they preach, teach, pray, nurture others, and offer the sacraments. COVID has leveled the playing field. Any Christian can use cheap to free technology to plant and lead churches now. There is great urgency for deep reflection on theology and praxis. My new book, Fresh Expressions in a Digital Age is a first small attempt for those who are interested.