Blessings of the Pandemic
Larry Colvin serves with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.
The pandemic of Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on lives around the world. Our lives and the life of the seminary are not exempt. Does God bring good out of bad? I am reminded of the story of Joseph sharing with his brothers in Egypt. Even though you intended to do harm to me. God intended it for good. (Gen. 50:20a NRSV) I am well aware there are theological concerns here but what can I say? This is the verse that comes to mind as I think of the past year and some of the “good” things to come out of it. What things?
Well, because of the pandemic, we have had to re-think what it means to be a church community. Because of the pandemic, we have had to re-think how to worship and what it means to share in the community of the Lord’s Supper when not together.
Since the early 20th century, a few churches have shared their Sunday morning worship via radio. As technology changed, so did the method of sharing. With the pandemic, more churches became creative with worship. This time, however, there was a difference; there was not just an audience tuning in, but churches attempting to bring their communities together. This was rich for Debbie and me as we now had a plethora of opportunities to worship across the ocean with friends and colleagues. We thank God for those opportunities. (Many of these congregations are going to continue to share in this manner.)
This past semester, I was teaching Theology of Church and Sacrament. I have particularly enjoyed this course as it affords so much time for class discussion, debate, and creativity. What the pandemic brought about were new opportunities for me to share with the class a wide range of worship styles covering a broad spectrum of theologies. Through the internet, we joined in worship with our UCC/Disciple traditions (indeed that alone offers a wide variety), as well as Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and more.
In the first days of the class, I provided a Biblical and historical background for these traditions. By accessing the internet, the students had an actual experience of these.
Sometimes we waited until the end to have a discussion. Other times, we would stop and discuss specific points. In addition, students had the opportunity to hear different kinds of music, see the use of vestments (or not), and the creativeness of worship in many settings. We could also experience a richness of the creative use of art, cameras, and computers in worship. The latter of which cannot be easily witnessed in Ghana.
So, for me, what will I miss from worship in Ghana? I shall miss the colorful dress as well as the lively music and dancing.
Larry Colvin serves with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. His appointment is made possible by gifts to the Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, OGHS, and your special gifts.