This post is from my friend Jim Musser’s blog

As churches across the nation shut down their physical worship services this morning, many replacing them with livestreaming events, I began imagining what this new reality will look like two or three months from now. Will Christian communities basically become a plethora of TV churches, with everyone sitting in their own homes with their eyes fixated on screens watching the same worship services to which they are accustomed attending in person? The pastors preaching sermons. The worship bands on stages playing songs.

The pandemic we are facing has no comparison to all but literally a few people in the world, those who were infants or toddlers in 1918 when the so-called “Spanish Flu” ravaged the world, infecting over 500 million and killing 20-50 million people. And just as that pandemic was a lifelong marker in the lives of many of our great-grandparents and grandparents, so this one will be a marker for our lives.

The question is, what kind of marker will this leave for us personally and for the Church? For the moment, based on God’s promise in Romans 8:28 to work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose, I want to imagine the good that will come out of this pandemic.

Imagine that Christians, instead of gathering in small groups around their computer or TV screens to watch livestreaming worship services, that they instead gather in homes to sing praises to the Lord, to pray for the world, the nation, their own communities, and for one another, and to read and discuss the Word of God. Perhaps they also enjoy a meal together that includes the Lord’s Supper. (Acts 2:42-47)

Imagine that believers truly humble themselves before the Lord in the face of this pandemic, recognizing that their lives are fragile and not guaranteed. (Psalm 39:4)

Imagine that Christians take an inventory of their priorities in life and move the Lord from the periphery of their lives to the center, making him the driving force rather than merely a side attraction. (John 14:21)

Imagine that Christians in communities, rather than isolating themselves from everyone, seek to serve those who are isolated out of necessity—the elderly and the sick—by bringing them food, household supplies, and medicine, by checking on them and even visiting them for awhile. (Matthew 25:34-36)

Imagine that followers of Jesus, rather than hoarding supplies such as sanitizers, toilet paper, and food, that they would look to share those things with others in need. (II Corinthians 8:13-15)

Imagine that in a time of economic hardship, Christians will be generous toward one another, making sure their brothers and sisters have what they need. (Acts 4:32-35)

Imagine that believers remain full of hope and peace instead of the despair and fear taking hold of the country, because they are confident in the power and love of the Lord. (Romans 8:35-38)

Imagine that Christians in our nation act as the true Church has always acted: loving one another, serving one another, meeting each other’s needs, risking their lives for the sake of serving Jesus, and being a light of hope and peace for the unbelieving world. Imagine believers across our country, rather than being participants in an institution, instead are an integral part of a community who are united in their love for and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine believers once again being the Church.

© Jim Musser 2020

Foot in Mouth Therapy

I realized the other day that I haven’t had the energy to sit down and blog for several months. Somewhere between multiple Google calendars and Facebook and multiple modes of communication life over-shared with me.

But fortunately, I spent the last week with two of my brothers in one of Panama’s beautiful islands Bocas del Toro.  There is nothing like a week with family on an island with your cell phone on airplane mode to revive the lost art of conversation. Talking face to face was great but it also afforded me many opportunities to put my foot in my mouth and to regret the way I communicated my thoughts and feelings. I had to ask for and receive forgiveness for misspoken words. An unexpected side effect was that I found myself wanting to slow down my words from verbal to written. Writing, it seems, as much as I hate it is one of the disciplines I need in my life. Writing compels me to pause, reflect on my day-to-days, and interact with Jesus — in helpful ways. The optimist in me hopes that it all translates eventually into fewer moments of foot-in-mouth.

The realist in me doubts it. For instance, I love movies. No problem except that my opinions of movies sometimes escapes from my mind unfiltered to my mouth. It is not that I regret bringing up my opinions but rather that I regret how and when, and with what tone and posture that I delivery my opinions. Note to self: sometimes it’s OK to leave a movie a movie without critical analyses. It really is.

Anything can turn into a foot-in-mouth moment for me. One happened as we returned to the USA and watched person after person have their fingerprints taken although they had committed no crime. It got me thinking about America’s immigration policies.

The whole issue of immigration is highly politicized and misunderstood by all sides, but it is one that, as a Christian who lives in America I continue to wrestle with. What do I say to a student who wants to go to a conference but can’t fly because he is undocumented? What do I tell a student to do who confides she is undocumented and can’t get a job without false documents? What is my role in the conversation as someone who has never experienced the multiple invasions of privacy that comes with being an immigrant in today’s USA?

Really how do you talk about wrestling with the issue of immigration without putting your foot in your mouth? I don’t know because my first impulse is to rant about the fear based invasion of privacy that affects both immigrants and those of us born here.The problem is that as soon as my rant is over I get this pit in my stomach feeling which is the result of pedi-indigestion.

Anybody share in my pain? I’ve been told that I am too opinionated. I’ve also been told that my bluntness can be liberating, but off-putting. I don’t reject those observations. I want to learn from them because as someone called to teach and preach and lead and learn for the sake of the gospel, I have to communicate well. It does nothing if it’s clear as day in my head but clear as mud coming out of my mouth. Worse if it’s mud slung out of my mouth.

So I continue to struggle to develop my “voice” because at the end of the day, I don’t want to be the angry, religious, guy who can’t just enjoy a movie or let something slide until there is a better time. Perhaps this sounds like something one who “doth protest too much” would say, but I really don’t take life seriously all of the time. I have a lot of fun, and I like to think I am fun to be with.

So here I am writing to make myself slow down and maybe, just maybe, keep my foot where it belongs instead of in my mouth!