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[Cfamily]When Loneliness Meets Self-Isolation
« Reply #1592 on: March 23, 2020, 12:00:08 AM »

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When Loneliness Meets Self-Isolation

A Warning and an Opportunity Amidst the Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a halt in many ways, including schools closing indefinitely, workplaces going to a remote model, and entertainment venues shuttering and church services postponed.

For the most part, we all seem to agree this is the best form of responsible citizenship and ultimately attacking the virus—despite economic fallout risks.

A new term to many of us but now common to everyday language has emerged: “self-isolation.” We’ve agreed to stay home, not congregate and not be communal on purpose in the hopes of squelching the life of COVID-19 and shortening its time among us, resulting in saving lives.

However, this current health crisis meets us in the midst of a mental and emotional health crisis—loneliness.

According to Cigna, nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone. In fact, only half of Americans report having meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending time with family on a daily basis.

This study includes all generations, but, Generation Z is the loneliest generation of all of them. It should be noted that the loneliness crisis is not just an American problem to address. Our friends in the UK appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address the mounting issues they are experiencing.

One study equates loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes daily, making it not just a mental and emotional health issue, but a physical one as well.

In light of being faced with the inevitable social distancing and self-isolation due to COVID-19 and intermingling with the already lonely condition of our world, we would be wise to be mindful of the risks and potential rewards during this indefinite amount ...

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[Cfamily]Churches Reconsider Drive-In Worship
« Reply #1593 on: March 24, 2020, 12:00:12 AM »
Churches Reconsider Drive-In Worship

Faced with COVID-19 quarantines and new rules for social distancing, some pastors are serious about reviving the 1950s fad.

Drive-in church seemed like a joke. And then, in a moment, it didn’t anymore.

The idea was a novelty in the 1950s, promoted as the church of the future. But it’s time didn’t come, and never came, and then it was gone, and the whole thing seemed silly. There were still a few drive-in churches around, of course, but they were curiosities, fading roadside attractions, dingy and decaying outside of town, monuments to bygone Americana.

Nik Baumgart, the pastor of an Assemblies of God congregation in a suburb of Seattle, certainly never dreamed of having a drive-in church. He had thought of a lot of ways to reach people, grow his church, and meet the spiritual needs of his congregation, and honestly the idea of a drive-in church never came up.

But then the staff of The Grove Church in Marysville, Washington was having a meeting to try and figure out what to do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, the church would have about 1,200 people gather in the sanctuary on a Sunday, but health officials were discouraging any groups over 50. There was talk of “social distancing,” requiring healthy but possibly infectious people to stay at least six feet away from each other, reducing human contact to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

But how do you have church with people more than six feet away from each other? A lot of groups were moving everything online. Was that what they should do?

Jon Rich, the administrative pastor, thought of something funny. “Maybe we should look into drive-in church,” he said, and the staff all laughed.

There was a beat. Then Baumgart said the sentence again: “Maybe we should look into drive-in church,” he said. It wasn’t funny this time. It was ...

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[Cfamily]Ways Churches Are Stepping Up During the COVID-19 Crisis
« Reply #1594 on: March 26, 2020, 12:00:07 AM »
Ways Churches Are Stepping Up During the COVID-19 Crisis

Churches are asking what they can do during a time of social distancing. We gathered examples from actual churches already engaged.

On March 23, I tweeted: “What is your church doing to reach out to the local community, the poor, and the marginalized during this time, while maintaining social distancing?” Responses have been encouraging and creative.

Scores of churches were represented by pastors, leaders, and members regarding their involvement in some version of food pantry, soup kitchen, or delivery to those in need. Most noted explicitly of their efforts to maintain social distancing. More than a few adjusted their ministry to offer to drop off groceries or supplies as people drove to them, while others delivered meals or food. Some provide the food as a church, while others encourage their community to pitch in.

Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformation Church in Charlotte, has led his church to provide food in a specific context: they provide weekly food boxes for 325 families in the Indian Land area.

But this is not something done only by large, urban churches. @scotteastman said his church bought hundreds of boxes of Cheerios to give to families driving through school meal pickup lines.

Pastor @matthewrstjohn from @NewHopeChurchMN gave a very encouraging testimony: @hayesplace said his church has volunteers coming in two-hour shifts of six people each to pack food boxes and deliver them to the elderly and immune-compromised in their area. @ypastorwolf serves in a farming community where they carefully provide fresh eggs, fruit, and vegetables for those in need. @jASONhAAGARD73 represents many who started a pantry in response to COVID19, in this case out of his own office.

Last year we gave out over 140,000 pounds of food to over 2,000 families from our community. Right now, we have many, many new faces–people coming for help. We have ...

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[Cfamily]An Easter Without Going to Church
« Reply #1595 on: March 27, 2020, 12:00:11 AM »
An Easter Without Going to Church

The pandemic has laid an egg on our worship.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a formal recommendation that public gatherings be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks. For organizations that serve high-risk populations, the threshold is 10 people, though most churches aren’t even doing that. Easter worship (April 12) as we’ve known it is doomed. Early on, many pastors probably presumed that preaching to cameras rather than congregations wasn’t going to encompass a whole season.

Events are moving quickly from bad to worse. No doubt pastors worry that two months of canceled worship services will provide the proverbial straw to break the camel’s back of congregational decline. For years we preachers told our congregations how “coming to church doesn’t make you a Christian” (usually followed by the tread-bare analogy about how being in a garage doesn’t make you a car). We never really meant to be taken seriously. Fewer and fewer adults already report attending church in America. What’s going to happen when this last remnant gets used to spending Sundays at home? Like everything in this anxious moment, it’s too soon to tell.

The first Easter found the most faithful huddled away from their congregations, hiding out with a different fear. Instead of a pandemic, the disciples were afraid of the religious and political authorities who’d crucified Jesus and were likely coming after them too. Perhaps they also feared Jesus. After all, they’d sworn never to deny or disown him, but when everything went south, they’d scrambled and fled, leaving a small group of women to keep the faith afloat. And now Jesus was loose! The disciples’ socially-distant hideout proved a bad ...

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[Cfamily]Fake Dead Sea Scrolls Displayed at Museum of the Bible
« Reply #1596 on: Yesterday at 12:00:07 AM »
Fake Dead Sea Scrolls Displayed at Museum of the Bible

Updated exhibit will focus on forgery.

The Museum of the Bible displays 16 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls—and all of which are fake, according to an independent analysis contracted by the museum. The forgeries will remain on display, with an updated exhibit that attempts to use the embarrassing situation as an educational opportunity.

“Our goal is to educate the public about these items, educate the public about the academic process, and make a contribution to the field,” said Jeffrey Kloha, the museum’s chief curatorial officer. “We are currently developing content for updating our exhibit.”

The Museum of the Bible purchased the forged fragments in four different lots from four different antiquities dealers between 2009 and 2014. The Dead Sea Scrolls were one of most important discoveries in biblical archaeology in the 20th century. It was felt that a museum dedicated to the history of the Bible had to have examples of them, if they were available.

The ancient scrolls were discovered by Bedouins in 1947. A cobbler in Bethlehem named Khalil Eskander Shahin and known as Kando served as an intermediary between the Bedouins and the institutions that wanted to buy them. The Kando family kept some of the fragments, as an investment.

When a number of scroll fragments began to come on the market in 2002, some were directly connected to the Kando family, and few questions were raised about their authenticity. Before the Bible museum opened, however, a group of scholars examined the fragments while writing a book about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Questions began to surface about five of the 16.

When the museum opened, the Dead Sea Scrolls were displayed with signs acknowledging the questions about their authenticity.

“Some scholars insisted ...

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[Cfamily]The Suffering in Suffering
« Reply #1597 on: Today at 12:00:07 AM »
The Suffering in Suffering

There will come a day when the last tear is shed. Until then, God has made himself present in our affliction.

For today’s musical pairing, Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen by Kjartan Sveinsson. See video below.

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, Your Majesty.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’”
Daniel 3:24–25

Day 7. 511,603 confirmed cases, 22,993 deaths globally.

The suffering in this present moment is not captured in tallies and numbers. Alongside the loss of life is the loss of livelihoods, the loss of innocence, the loss of a sense of security. The scent of fear is in the air, and in the midst of the pandemic our epidemic of loneliness grows deeper.

Suffering has a tendency to isolate. It can carve us away from community, set us apart from the crowd, and strip away all our distractions and illusions and consolations. No one can experience our pain for us. No one can take it away. No one can cover it over with soothing words or glittering ideas. Even when we suffer together, we suffer alone.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,” Mother Teresa wrote, “and the feeling of being unloved.” Now the pandemic has made our spiritual isolation physical. We find ourselves in an enforced solitude, where our fears and anxieties echo in the emptiness. We ache for the presence of others.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and hurled into the fiery furnace together, and they emerged unbound and unharmed. God met them in the fire. Christians are not wrong to read the story in the light of the Incarnation. ...

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