Several months ago my best friend gave me an old beat-up book to read that she had just finished. “It’s historical fiction, you’ll love it!” she said. “Cool! What’s the setting?” “Medieval England during a plague.” “What?! You want me to read a book about the plague right now?!” Well, I am indeed reading a book about a plague (Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks). It’s written about the Great Plague of 1665-1666, and I have around 100 pages to go, so I don’t yet know how the story ends.
Once the plague comes to an isolated English mountain village (from London), a housemaid named Anna emerges as an unlikely hero. The village had just gotten a visionary young minister who came to serve with his wife. And the minister convinces the town to quarantine within the boundaries of the village to hopefully stop the plague from spreading to nearby villages. But soon enough, death reaches every household. Faith becomes tested and lost by some. There is even a witch hunt with villagers needing someone to blame for their pain and suffering.
The chapter I just finished featured the minister collapsing in the pulpit from exhaustion as he declared to his weary parishioners that it was no longer safe to worship inside their church building. Rev. Mompellion preached, “Do not despair! . . . For a church is not a building, merely! We shall still have our church, but we will have it in the midst of God’s own creation. We will meet and pray together under the ceiling of Heaven, in Cucklett Delf, where the birds shall be our choir, the stones our altar, the trees our spire! In the Delf, friends, we may stand at safe distance from one another, so that the ill do not infect the well.” (pg. 167)
It may sound like an odd thing to write to you this week, but this novel about the plague in England in the 1600s has given me a jolt of hope. Christians have been through plagues and pandemics before. And somehow, some way, we figure out how to meet and pray together. As you have hopefully read already (and can read below), we are altering our operations given the positivity rate in Colchester (and in Connecticut as a whole) with the Omicron variant. We are continuing on with worship in person, masked and spaced out from one another, and will continue offering worship virtually. Though for now, we are not having the Choir rehearsing and singing in worship nor are we gathering the youngest members of our church family for Sunday School. We hope things will get back to the new normal in just a few weeks once the spread of Omicron has lessened.
Though just remember on those days when we may feel especially weary, the Christian Church has been here before in times of sickness and suffering in communities. And we will weather this storm, together. Take heart. Don’t despair. God is with us as we all figure out the next faithful step.
Photo by Magda V on Unsplash
Thursday Thoughts 1/6/22