So far, 2020 has been the year of all years–one of a kind without equal for most of us! Beginning in December 2019, in Wuhan, China, a new coronavirus began appearing. It was named Covid-19, a shortened form of “coronavirus disease of 2019.” No one on earth has an immunity to it because no one had ever been infected by the Coronavirus until now. This novel virus spread worldwide from China within months and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. By the end of March, the world saw more than a half-million people infected and nearly 30,000 deaths. The infection rate in the US is still spiking and our nation now has set the record for highest numbers of infections and deaths.
From today’s New York Times Newspaper:
Thus, our lives and activities as we know them have been dramatically changed. And, no one can predict with any certainty when “normal living” will return or what “normal living,” will be like in our future.
People still need people, people love people and on the brighter side, we have seen and experienced peoples’ creativity and ingenuity rise to this occasion during our new “social distancing,” quarantines, and self-isolation. People are using technology to cope with this unique situation and to continue to relate to their families, friends, and colleagues.
For the past five weeks our church services have been recorded and broadcast using a camera, microphone, an encoder, and an internet connection from our pastor’s home and available through a variety of software applications that people tune into from their phones, tablets, laptops, pc’s, and even YouTube on their television screens–all while maintaining social distancing and appropriate other guidelines for keeping safe and healthy.
In fact, we had a very special Easter weekend service “The Life,”
that exceeded our expectations. Our norm would have been several hundred volunteers greeting and serving guests at four services over Saturday and Sunday, with special music, added musicians and singers, and a drama to celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead. Chesapeake Church in Huntingtown, MD, kept those “norms” in place. They adapted to crowd-sourcing venues, social distancing for their musicians and singers and even used the “End Hunger Food Warehouse,” as a special setting for the special times and music. Senior Pastor Robert Hahn along with Associate Pastor Nathan LaBorie, delivered this weekend’s message and the previous four through an intimate living room setting and conversations about “Encounters With Jesus” which followed Him during the days just prior to his crucifixion and then culminated with his resurrection on the first Easter Sunday. Their love of Jesus and the people in our biblical community reawakened my faith and gives me hope for everyone’s future.
Similarly, our Monday Night Bible Study group was introduced to ZOOM, a free web-based video conferencing tool that provides quality video, audio, and a wireless screen-sharing performance across all devices, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, pc’s, etc. We actually can see, hear, and talk to each other in this virtual conference room.
So, when our family accepted the WHO and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for no gatherings, social distancing, and quarantines, we cancelled our traditional Sunday easter egg hunt and dinner together in one place with a family meeting on ZOOM. This was our very first time ever not being together in person in one house on this occasion. And, as each of our family members entered the virtual meeting room, we heard various cheers and the usual family call outs in excitement. Better than usual, we had family members join us from as far away as Portugal, Hawaii, Oregon, South Carolina, Central Virginia, and Southern Maryland.
Travelling even the shortest distances is not easy for Dad who is 91. He was able to remain in his home and still visit with his family. And, our Grand Uncle Maynard in Portland was able to visit with nearly all of our family–a first for them and him! It was a new toy, many were amazed and sometimes it was little chaotic in knowing when your speaker was on or muted. So, like any other family gathering there were side conversations and occasionally someone talking over others. But we agreed that this was a new tool that we liked and so we have scheduled a follow-up virtual family gathering for mid-May. This part of a future “new norm” is a welcome addition to staying in touch with family.