Finding God in the Pandemic
BY CHRISTIE BERNARD THADIKONDA
Where is God when it hurts? This has been an existential question for generations. As this question lingers in the minds of many including Christians, it is a time to pause and reflect on the presence of God. In his book God and the Pandemic, N.T. Wright encourages readers to move toward what can we do when it hurts?
My calling is to be a pastoral presence during the pandemic. I refer to it as P3. While the whole world was struggling to understand what was going on and trying to find God amid the pandemic, I was finding ways and means to be a pastoral presence during these unprecedented times.
Firstly, I sang worship songs to my neighbors and the community from my patio. I used my piano, audio system, and my children to sing and bless the community. Loving my neighbor was demonstrated through these intentional acts of kindness.
I also gathered a few members of my church, and we all went into the neighborhood to worship along with our neighbors. This was well planned and we all maintained with adequate social distancing and other CDC guidelines. The church members, who had not seen their community in many weeks, got an opportunity to be together in worship.
My technical skills were put to use during this pandemic. As a software engineer, I navigated the use of technology to bring together our distanced community. I used social media platforms to spread the love of God, minister to people, conduct funeral services on virtual platforms, celebrate birthdays, and host many other virtual meetings.
As I reflected upon my pastoral care class, I remembered my professor telling us about being companions in the pastoral ministry. The word companion is derived from Latin com – together with, and panis meaning ‘bread’. A loaf of bread specially baked by Michelle Walker was shared at the Agape Meal during the Chapel. What a great way of sharing as a community. As I reflect upon the past year, I am amazed to see that I was being a pastoral presence throughout the time. This reminds me of a quote by Soren Kierkegaard – Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
The hand of God is evident throughout the pandemic. The good news is that we are learning to be a Church in innovative and novel ways. This has opened doors to look forward in anticipation of what God is going to do in this new year. God is always present with us in the midst of our mess. Humankind needs to pause and reflect, to see and experience God’s presence. I am sincerely following my calling of being a non-anxious pastoral presence whether it is during a pandemic or not.
Christie Bernard Thadikonda is a Leadership Scholar of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is pursuing a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Biblical Studies & a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Union Presbyterian Seminary. He is actively involved with the Students Ministry, and Community Missions at Gayton Baptist Church in Henrico County, Virginia.