Easter is coming this week and the churches are empty.
The holiest week in the Christian calendar has collided with the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving believers without a church to gather in but with faith intact and services continuing.
“It is a natural thing to think that the wrath of God is upon us, but in this situation there are good times to turn away from ourselves and use our gifts to control this disease and be loving and caring. “said Reverend Ed Zaorski. of St. James Catholic Church in Novi said. “God didn’t suddenly decide to give the world coronavirus. “
Right now, Zaorski is counting blessings, including thanking God for technology, the church’s primary way of keeping in touch with parishioners.
St. James Catholic Church, located on 10 Mile, has 3,200 families in the congregation and in the past two weeks the priest said live-broadcast masses have received nearly 1,800 visits to stjamesnovi.org. Church officials have received positive feedback on recordings made in the familiar church to give the congregation a sense of connection.
Yet Zaorski calls it a “clumsy experiment”.
“I’m used to seeing a church full of people and now I communicate with them through a camera,” Zaorski said. “And because our church tradition is so full of symbolism, we have to be creative to make people feel comfortable.”
This is the ministry at the time of the coronavirus.
Community Bible Church, which has campuses in southern Lyon and Brighton, has combined online services that can be seen on its Youtube channel, but dropped the livestream after the first week due to technical difficulties with so many churches trying to connect at the same time.
“It’s all a blur,” Reverend Jon Nagle said. “We are compelled during this time to put aside the embodied experience of being a church and use technology so that we can have some time to cope during quarantine.”
Normally every Sunday Nagle said there were around 120 in the church in south Lyon on Pontiac Trail south of Nine Mile. So far, he said, the congregation appears to be “doing quite well in the storm” in terms of health and financial well-being and appreciates the fact that the church is using technology to connect with them online. creatively, including bringing music together from multiple remote locations.
“We’re grateful that this has happened at a time when we can use technology to have some semblance of community,” Nagle said. “If that had happened 50 years ago, we wouldn’t have that option.
“I think a lot of people are asking where God is during all of this,” he continued. “We haven’t had a crisis of faith, instead people ask, ‘How do we get involved? We have to practice social distancing, but people jump in to step up and help. At times like this, the church is fortunate to be the hands and feet of Christ and to care for those who are suffering.
“The church is not a building”
The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan in March interrupted a series of 1 Corinthians sermons at Community Bible Church. Now each sermon has an overall theme of hope and all church members have been invited to film one-minute videos with their own personal testimonies of how Jesus changed their lives with the hashtag #storiesofhope.
Randy Weaks, associate pastor of the First Baptist Church of South Lyon has lost track of how many in-person services have been missed, noting that “time flies together”.
“We had never closed the doors of the church,” he said. “We try to conform to what everyone else is doing, it gives a bad taste if Christians or churches get together when everyone is invited to stay home.”
Instead, church officials record services and host online Bible studies at fbcsouthlyon.com and encourage families to pray at home using Zoom or conference calling, without excuses “because you have a lot of time that you didn’t have before”.
“The whole crisis allows us to remind ourselves that the church is not a building,” Weaks said.
He recognizes the challenge of practical ministry, without being able to make hospital or in-house visits, without hugs or words of encouragement in person. Instead, there are daily calls to parishioners to check on more personal needs and devotions.
“Life is full of trials, but it shouldn’t affect your faith,” Weaks said. “Life will have crises and troubles, but the most important thing is Jesus in our hearts. The church is not confined to the four walls.
Church ministry certainly looks different, and Zaorski notes that there has been an increase in pantry use, and the cancellation or postponement of ceremonies, including weddings, funerals, and baptisms. .
This Sunday however, even as the world is going through a crisis unprecedented in modern history, it will return to the familiar message of Easter, a message of hope that does not change for Christians who believe in Passion, Death and God. resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“It’s the greatest story ever told, ever written, ever lived,” Zaorski said. “And it’s a story that continues. God has promised that he will not forsake us, he will do his part and we must also do our part. Our role is to be loving, caring, and to use the talents God has given us to overcome this virus and make this world a better place. “
Log in at Easter
Here are a few other churches in the area offering live or recorded services to watch in your own home:
To have your church added to the list, email [email protected]