We are called to a pastoral care based on security
The question of the reopening of places of worship in phase 2 of this time marked by the pandemic is the topic that has accompanied, accompanies and will accompany our communities for some time. The Waldensian table has worked with great attention and sensitivity on this issue, establishing a commission of professionals in the field of medicine, hygiene and safety, to write useful guidelines for church councils and consistories to deal with this delicate phase for our local churches.
I would like to summarize this pastoral in three points:
First. A good security pastoral should ensure that our places of worship do not become a space in which we look at each other with suspicion. This should be especially remembered to those who tend to simplify problems, which some communities feel like boulders instead. We should therefore be careful to remember first of all to ourselves, and then to all our church members and sympathizers, that we are Church also outside the walls of the temple. Those who do not feel confident in facing this phase of re-union immediately, had better live this time of personal uncertainty in the tranquility of their home: it makes no sense to anxiously live the moment of the Meeting. And I write it with a capital M to indicate the wonder of being together in the presence of the Lord.
Second. A good pastoral care of security should ensure that, in reopening our places of worship, we proceed to create a safe but also welcoming and joyful environment. So let’s think, as far as possible, of liturgies and preachings that make hope blossom, rather than arouse tears.
Third. A good security pastoral should find us ready to take the “big step” to overcome the issue I mentioned at the beginning. Reopen or not? And if so, when? Thinking about this, two biblical texts came to my mind. The first is found in the book of Numbers (11, 5-6), which speaks of the Israelites’ complaint: «We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free, the watermelons, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. Now our life withers; there is nothing left, our eyes see nothing but this manna». Looking nostalgically at what we missed in this lockdown time does not make us appreciate the manna that God gives us in this desert time. The many initiatives undertaken to preach the Word and the commitment made to reach the brothers and sisters forcedly locked in their homes have been “manna”. The second biblical text is found in the Gospel of John (5: 5-8) and speaks to us of Jesus who asks a sick person accustomed to his condition: «Do you want to be healed?». And to the obstacles that the sick person puts to his attention, Jesus strongly counteracts saying: «Get up, take your bed and walk».
Here, these two texts tell us how our attitude should be when we’re facing the decision to start again, or not, to be a Church made up of bodies. Not with the bold attitude of the nostalgic of a past to which you want to return at all costs, but not even with the adaptation to a condition of paralysis that you are now used to.
(Translation: Valentina Fries)