THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS IS THE SEED OF THE CHURCH [Tertullian]
The Church in this COVID-19 Pandemic is under a form of Bloodless Dry/White Martyrdom. The persecution is in the form of restriction of the Faithful from gathering for worship.
Although he does not see persecution as a direct correlation to Church growth, missiologist Justin Long assesses that Christianity “tends loosely” to change more rapidly (grow or shrink) when governmental restriction is high, and stays relatively stable when such pressure is low.
Yes, we have online church available. But in viewing the small percentage who ‘attend’ our local broadcast, it does cause one to think. Because of the restriction of this Constitutional right, will the Church grow…or is She instead becoming complacent in this new paradigm? The answer remains to be seen.
During this time of waiting, it would do us all well to ponder the significance of what we have lost. Many zero-in (justifiably) on the concept of the loss of Constitutional Freedom as the key point. But the concept is only an umbrella over the real core.
The term ‘exercise of our faith’ is very bland. It can cause us to revert back to an idiological basis for our sense of loss. That is the stuff of which revolutions are made. But if we fail to see the deeper meaning of that loss, we have missed the point. And that deeper meaning is most clear in the Churches of true Apostolic Succession.
Please don’t get me wrong. Those in post-Reformation ecclesial communities want to be back at their local church. I’m sure they miss community worship and fellowship. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But in the Apostolic Church, the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of Faith. Within the Sacred and Holy Meal Christ Himself is present…Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is the Mystery of Faith as discerned from Christ’s direct teaching
Consequently, the Eucharist is the Lifeblood Source for each believer. By partaking of it, we live out what Christ said in the John 6 Bread of Life Discourse: that unless we eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood, there is no life in us. Let that sink in. No life! And so the real question is this: Has the absence of the Eucharist created a deep yearning in you, or has it lost its true meaning?
Above all else, this is and should be the real COVID-19 take-away for the Faithful.