There is solidarity in hardship and isolation – even for a family. This is a lesson that has become clear to Americans over the past few weeks as communities form “militias of caring” and find new ways to continue celebrating their faith despite what has become a national quarantine.
Many homes have now become churches of their own, with Americans worshipping in their living rooms, in front of televisions and computer screens.
For many around the world, home churches are not new. In China, there are over 30 million Christians who worship in secret in the face of persecution. Christian gatherings are illegal in China, so these Christians worship in what are known as “house churches” – secret places of worship. Sometimes services literally take place in a house, and sometimes they take place in clandestine gathering halls.
American Christians are not worshipping in secret, but we are worshipping in physical quarantine and isolation. While we don’t get the same kind of collective worshipful spirit of a large church gathering over social media, what we are fortunate to have is a time to strengthen our family’s commitment to our faith.
Families are the building blocks for a moral, healthy and thriving society, and if we use this time to show love and gratitude to each other and to God; to read the Bible as a family, the way people did for hundreds of years; and to have unhurried, in-person conversations about why our faith is important, we can reap the blessings of time together. This includes a unique opportunity to worship with our children, who may typically be separated from adults in “children’s church” during Sunday services.
The greatness of America lies in the character of our people, in the simple virtues of faith, marriage, hard work, family, personal responsibility, and helping the least among us. Quarantine, lockdown and social distancing allow us the space to consider faith-oriented values. Couples who are struggling in their marriage can use this time to bring peace to their relationship and to rediscover their love for each other.
Let’s remember when we are irked by constant nearness to our spouses, as we co-work and co-parent, that marriage is a sacrament of faith and the living embodiment of Jesus’ love for the church. If we remind ourselves that marriage is a sacrament, we will face cohabitation with love for each other instead of irritation.
Never before has it been more critical for us to live by the values that define us as families, as communities and as a nation. How fortunate we are to be able to express our faith openly as a society, when one in nine Christians around the world faces persecution.
During this time, we can express that faith by offering our services to the elderly or immunocompromised in our church community and our neighborhood who may not be able to leave their homes to buy food. We can call someone who lives alone. We can buy gift cards to our local stores and restaurants. We can contribute to “virtual tip jars” for food service workers.
And we can pray for each other. We can pray for those who are incarcerated; those who are new to this country and may be facing this challenge without a network of support; those who are ill; those who are homeless; and those who are worried about how they will pay their bills.
Let’s use this time to draw closer to God and to each other. Through home church, family games, meals eaten together and more, it will all bring us together. When we finally emerge from our homes, we can emerge in renewed faith instead of in fear.
Timothy Head is the executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.