SCMers are a very involved bunch. When they see injustice, they act. When people are in pain, they alleviate. When crisis looms, they face it.
But a virus is not like the other forms of social injustice we have faced at SCM. We cannot protest a virus - we cannot march or hold vigils. There is no easy answer for what we as a movement can do.
The way that the spread of the virus is being handled by the government, and the apparent lack of PPE for frontline staff – that we can protest. The effects that the virus is having on the poorest and most vulnerable – that we can seek to alleviate. The spiritual needs faced by our neighbors and friends – that we can face.
But – how?
Social isolation is the best thing I can do to help limit the spread of the virus and protect those around me. I largely work from home anyway, so this is a relatively easy thing for me to do. I'm not meeting with SCMers face to face. Church is online, and I’m not taking public transport. I don't leave the house apart from essential shopping and my government mandated exercise!
However I still feel the need to be productive, to be seen to be doing things. I’m bewildered at being faced with something that I cannot do very much about, except do very little.
Make no mistake, Christians and the Church are not immune from this obsession with output - in fact I would say we are especially in thrall to it. How many of us understand our faith as something we use to make change in the world, rather than as something of inherent worth? This also goes for societies and churches that emphasize evangelism as the main purpose of Christianity – how many people and churches measure their worth by how many converts they create? Or how many churches and groups measure effectiveness by numbers attending? And despite the biblical instruction to rest on the Sabbath, how many of us actually do so? No wonder we find it hard to do nothing, even when doing nothing is the right thing to do.
So, what have I done whilst inside? Something remarkable right? Well, no. I cleaned the kitchen. I did a bunch of knitting. I napped. I had video calls with friends and joined in with some online evening prayer. And that’s pretty much it.
I don’t have grand plans. If there are ways I can help in my neighborhood or in my church from afar, then I’ll do that. But, for now, I’m staying put so that if I am unwittingly carrying this virus I don’t pass it on to anyone else. And that is the best thing I can do.
To all the SCMers out there – please remember that doing nothing is a valid response to this crisis. Staying home is the best thing we can do to halt the spread. Keep checking the SCM Facebook group where we’ll have details of online meetings and bible studies, and let us know what you’re doing to keep yourself, and your neighbors and friends, safe and sane in the next few weeks!