The kingdom of heaven is like COVID-19…
I expect Jesus’ kingdom parables had something of the shock factor of that suggestion. Yeast and mustard seeds were, after all, either unclean or destructive and unwelcome. Coronavirus, in its disruptiveness, unpredictability and pervasiveness, speaks in a similar way of the unstoppable way God’s kingdom spreads, potentially provoking a similar knee-jerk reaction of ‘Ooh, that can’t be godly, because it’s not a nice, pretty image.’
As I write, we are just working out what advice to give to Messy Church leaders about meeting during the pandemic.
It’s brought it home to me how fundamental particular aspects of Messy Church are – take away the welcoming drink, the shared meal packed tightly around tables together, and you’re left with a shadow of the community we’re trying to build. Take away the ‘stuff of the earth’ – the tactile, hands-on objects of a Messy Church, like shared salt-dough and scissors, and you’re left with words and abstract concepts. Take away the ‘at-risk’ people such as older people with health issues, and you’re left with a depleted family gathering. Take away the face-to-face contact (the Czech Republic has just banned gatherings of more than 30), and you start down a path of social isolation. Take away the one opportunity in the month for families to meet and discover God together, and the spiritual rhythm of those families and team members is broken.
If Messy Church is an event, we can just shrug our shoulders and cancel the next one without feeling too much compunction. If it’s church, the stakes are much higher.
Read Messy Church coronavirus advice