Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
7 May 2020
I live by the sea and watch every day as ships come and go from the nearby port. There are cargo vessels, dredgers, tugs, all going about their business. I love watching their movement and wondering where the boat is going or has been. For the crew on board, it is their everyday life. For me, it seems mysterious and adventurous. My times on board boats are associated with holidays and great experiences, not hard work.
A recent prayer that I read about the pandemic described how we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Our experience of being affected by Covid-19 will depend on many things, including where we are in the world, our access to healthcare, our social status and the work that we do, our current health and the access to the basic resources that are necessary to enable us to stay well at this time – clean water and enough safe space.
I never imagined that there would be a time when being a bus driver or serving in a supermarket could be hazardous occupations; or when a paramedic, at the end of a shift looking after those who are sick with the virus, would sleep in their car so that they do not put their family at risk. I didn’t think I would ever be relieved when a list of prayer requests contained more of the “usual” requests for those needing to find work or relationship issues, rather than hearing of more people infected and dying from COVID-19.
For some, loss has been the main experience of this time. Loved ones have died, employment has gone, perhaps our independence has been curtailed and we are relying on others. So many of us miss seeing family and friends face to face. Pastors go into empty church buildings and miss seeing their congregations. Some of us miss being part of a physical crowd, being one of many voices. We will be glad when these aspects of our lives return.
What do we hope for in the time after the pandemic has passed? What of our lives under lockdown will we actually want to keep? What are the “old” things that have had their time and will not return?
The answers to these questions are somewhat unknown and will differ with each person. Here are a couple of thoughts. Covid-19 has shown us where social action is needed, to bring a just and fair world for all. MCC is founded on justice. The passionate commitment shown by MCCs who have continued to operate their food pantries, feeding programmes, homeless shelters and other social action projects is something that we definitely want to hold onto from this time. We can and must do more locally, nationally and internationally to address issues, such as poverty, lack of access to basic healthcare and the lack of political will to change the status quo.
Many of us now know how to connect online in ways that we did not before. I think this will continue to be a real area of growth for us, locally and internationally. Local MCCs are already experiencing people joining them for online worship from other cities or countries. I have a vision for a whole network of online MCC gatherings in different languages and time zones that offer queer spiritual connection. Wherever you are in the world, on any day, you would have the opportunity to join with others in prayer, worship and discussion. This online presence will also offer the possibility of increased attendance at local churches and the development of emerging churches and other MCC communities. What an amazing way to expand our ministry!
The solidarity of looking after each other and being willing to give up some of our own freedom to protect the health of others is another really heartening aspect of living under lockdown. I saw a “Thank you, keep safe” note on a neighbour’s dustbin, acknowledging the service of the council workers who collect the refuse and recycling. We have been reminded that we are interconnected as human beings. We need to hold onto that experience and use it to build stronger communities and a more compassionate world.