A SOCIALLY DISTANCED BODY.
Or a radical new way to connect?
Many church services will continue on Sundays as they usually have because so many struggle to get 50 people through the doors at the best of times let alone the new threshold of 100.
The additional proviso that people over 70 should stay home and minimise their movements will automatically mean that many with aging congregations will find it hardly worth opening at all.
There are many churches around the country who o have congregations over 100 people and certainly many that attract well over over 500.
Whether Brian Tamaki and his team still intend to open in defiance of such measures remains a concern. If they persist in having gatherings of over 100 it will not augur well if the State feels compelled to act to enforce this edict.
And certainly the risk of spreading the contagion will be amplified if such gatherings do occur and they will be viewed by the population at large as irresponsible.
But then again it might simply be another media exaggeration with Destiny planning all along to comply in their own way. Time will tell.
Faith requires works (faith without works is dead) and sometimes works require common sense and most often that means abiding by the law.
Megachurches or members of large church networks all across the country often have a vibrant and faithful attendance.
Most have creative and youthful teams who know exactly how to make the most of the technology tools of the times to run streaming church services and are so organisationally astute that it won't take much to break down organically into existing house groups or new gatherings that fit the sub-100 cap.
They'll probably have the full band, projected lyrics, notices, sermon, tithing and altar call ... although they may have to rethink this as time goes on as serving 50 home groups ranging from 10-50 people might require a different style or service.
Perhaps they should just meet and drop the big branding, order of service and top down single message for simple gatherings where people can openly interact, get to know each other's stories, share testimony and even pray for one another?
These are challenging times. Maybe the book of Acts had it right after all. Maybe one virus that is causing so much apprehension and panic can give way to another; a viral movement where the presence of God and the power of his Holy Spirit begins to move on people's lives in healing and restoration.
Maybe in this time of being forced to step back and re-evaluate where we are at, to get past the storm and the thunder and lightning and white noise of the world hurrying us along, we can find a still small voice whispering to our souls (1 Kings 19:11 / Psalm 46:10). Perhaps we are being asked to be still and simply know that he is God?
How we respond to the Corona Crisis will say a lot about us as a body or people and how resilient and flexible we are to respond to radically changed parameters and not only serve each other but our local communities and those who are really struggling in this time and indeed fearful.
Here's a real chance to look out for each other; if we can't look after those in our own community of faith: the elderly, the poor, those with disabilities, those who don't have transport or groceries or have other needs, then what's the point in even talking about serving the wider community?
I seem to recall something about being known by our love for one another. And loving our neighbours as ourselves. And that other one, perfect love casts out fear.
There's lots going on right now and lots that could be said but this is not time for adding to the confusion or spreading fear or letting ourselves get too sidelined.
I traveled down country this week to catch up with faithful friends Wiremu and Trieste Te Awe Awe, my prayer warrior mum Marj Newman in Feilding and a new friend Te Rino Rapana at Ratana Pa and had wonderful, encouraging, uplifting fellowship in sharing our common faith.
I sat in the Ratana temepara (temple) in one of the Te Tama (Son of God) seats (white whetu marama) and looked around and prayed and mediated as I do whenever I get down to that part of the world from my home in Hawke's Bay. I heard the words: "Presence, Purpose and Plan" repeated several times. Later when thinking about this it felt right to add the word 'Peace' into this.
So as you mediate on what this might mean for you, may the Presence of our Father in Heaven through his Holy Spirit be with you as you consider your Purpose in this difficult time and may he show you the Plan he has for your life as we move forward in the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.