The Big Ease

There is a spot on the surface of the earth in the Oklo (uranium mining) region of Gabon in Africa where radioactive material smoldered at “sub-critical mass” for thousands of years. It was a natural accumulation of radioactive elements brought together where their radioactivity was sufficient to generate enough heat to melt tons of metal and rock and ignite any biologic materials nearby, but not enough radioactivity for the pile to become critical and explode. With entirely natural processes, this pile of material cycled on and off every three hours creating intense bursts of heat and radioactivity for 150,000 years. You can mathematically model a nuclear chain reaction the same way you model an epidemic (or vice versa).

Right now, the entire globe is smoldering with this pandemic. You even hear on the news of “local hot spots” (a term borrowed from nuclear chain reaction modeling), outbreaks or critical areas. We have kept the terrible contagion from infecting ten or a hundred times more people in the same month or two (that would be like a nuclear explosion). Given the politics of anti-vaccination movements and lack of sound leadership, I am concerned that this disease will continue to smolder for a long time. Perhaps for several years to come.

The need for social distancing, precautions and so forth will not suddenly vanish because the potential for infection will linger like an unwanted guest far longer than anyone is willing to discuss these days. Getting 60 to 80% of the global population vaccinated is going to take a while. So how should we carry on in the meantime? Why should we carry on? And what value will the church add in the lives of its members and the surrounding community?

How should we go forward?

  • Hold virtual Sunday worship until we are told it is safe to resume in-person worship
  • Increased phone calls and letters to parishioners
  • Facilitate outside group meetings as advised
  • Gradually ease back existing church meetings based upon medical advice
  • Find expanded ways to use our church and enhanced video network
    • Educational programs
    • Entertainment
    • Outreach educational programs
  • Explore new ways to engage people at home
    • Small group, family lessons
    • Icebreakers, games, conversation starters

  Why should we carry on?

  • With courage, resolve and presence we demonstrate that the love of God is with us and for us
  • Only God’s love brought to the world by those who know it can cast out the fear, ignorance and darkness
  • We desire to make the world a better place

  What is our value-added to the community?

  • Grace Church does not guilt people into becoming baptized so they will be free from sin and go to heaven
  • We don’t sell fire insurance
  • We stress that the kingdom of God is right here, right now
  • We share the love of God with others to give hope and belonging
  • We develop solid spirituality and maturity in our children and youth
  • We reach out in support of the wider community with no strings attached and no guilt
  • We try to be the arms, mouth, hands, feet and heart of Jesus in a broken and battered world

We have used this down time to address a century of deferred maintenance on the property. Many things were deteriorating, and some things were not safe. We are turning our attention to what Grace Episcopal Church in Muskogee needs to become for the century ahead.

God bless you all. Stay safe.


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