Is Anyone Else Going Slightly Mad Right Now?
I recently read about the Angola Three, a small trio of African-American prisoners in Louisiana, who are infamous for their extraordinary amount of time spent in solitary confinement. Forty years they languished in solitary confinement, the longest of any persons ever in the American prison system. In an interview Herman Wallace, one of the Angola Three, describes those forty years.
"'The cells were pretty bare, and they were maybe about ... 3 feet wide and about 6 feet long. It was almost like it was in a tomb, and there was a slab of concrete that you slept on,' King says. 'You ate three meals a day — you had two slices of bread each meal. During the wintertime, you froze, and during summertime, you were overheated. But in any event, you were starved.'"
Is your home beginning to feel like a tomb yet? It is for a lot of people around the nation right about now. Although nothing we are experiencing in this Coronavirus situation is even close to what Wallace and his friends went through, I'm sure many of you are starting to feel like a prisoner in your own home. Perhaps you are beginning to resonate with that Queen song "I'm Going Slightly Mad." I chatted on the phone with one of my congregants earlier and she mentioned having similar feelings.
How are we supposed to keep from going slightly mad while under temporary house arrest? More importantly, how are we supposed to be the body of Christ while confined to our homes?
The answer for some is to just ignore the government and keep right on meeting. At least that's what a few churches around the nation have been doing. A church over in Baton Rouge, LA and one in Raleigh, NC defied their state's mandate that groups of over 50 people should not gather. One of the pastors even used Hebrews 10:25 as their justification: "not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." What the pastor may have failed to consider is the immediately preceding verse. Hebrews 10:24 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
If any verse should have been focused upon right now, it's that one. Now is the time for us to figure out how we can love our vulnerable church and communities members, which, by the way, currently means not meeting face-to-face. How can we accomplish good deeds for our neighbors during these lonely days? Furthermore, is it possible to continue meeting together right now without being face-to-face?
I believe there is. While on the telephone with another member, a former minister, he was commenting about how just a few years ago a pandemic like this would have left the church with limited options for staying connected. Thanks to technology, however, Hebrews 10:24-25 has a much wider application. We don't need to be in the same room in order to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together." We can do it via Facebook Live, which is what my church will be doing on Sunday (join us by liking our Facebook page). We can do the same thing on YouTube. Some churches are even doing the service from the parking lot over an FM transmitter.
But why let your church staff and pastor have all the fun? You can take the same initiatives on your own too. Call everyone in your Sunday School class or do what Beckham, Baker, and I did yesterday. I Facetimed some of the elderly women in our church and just let them watch the boys play for a little while. It was fun to interact with my church members in a way that I never had before. If Facetime is too trendy for you, dust off the stationery and write some letters.
I'll rest here, but don't let your temporary "solitary confinement" drive you slightly mad. The solution is to our momentary house arrest is to get creative and fulfill Hebrews 10:24-25 in some ways you've never done before.