What has changed? (5 Jul 2020)

It was the second day of Lunar New Year 2020. An urgent email from my workplace at NUS must be seen to. All lessons after the Lunar New Year weekend are to be conducted online. There is the mad scramble to craft a 3-hour online lesson on Tuesday with my class of PRC scholars.

This was when we first heard of the Wuhan virus and the subsequent lock-down. The pandemic has taken the world by storm, with horrendous physical and economic impact on lives and livelihood.

Singapore started to have cases of the virus, subsequently named Covid-19.

Changes to lifestyle began. Education and work are now in the home. Some, for example, seniors in rental flats, homeless, suffer from disconnect and depression. A few seniors mentioned that they would rather be sick so that they can be in hospitals, rather than stay home looking at the four walls. Positively, couples helped each other in cooking, washing up and spending more time with family. Lifestyle changes also include a slower pace for many.

Then ‘church’ changes. What has changed?

Form has changed, for example, mode of worship, how services are conducted, not being able to meet face-to-face. The form has changed but not the substance. Good news in a bad world has not changed. More importantly, we do not ‘go-church’ but ‘live-church.’

We realise our frailty, gain new insights on the world we live in: the ‘invisibility cloak’ has been lifted from essential workers, hidden heroes – labourers, health care workers, landscape workers, cleaners, what work is. We cannot choose not to see real needs, for example, the needs of migrant workers, injustice, and discrepancy in society.

What has Christ called us to?

It is to work righteousness and to speak truth from the heart (Ps 15:2). We need to pray and care for the marginalised and the poor (Isa 1:17).

It is to repent, to have metanoia, a transformative change of heart. Metanoia, a translation of the Greek μετάνοια suggests repudiation, change of mind, repentance.

We are to repent of our two-timing God. While we have the New Jerusalem, we also want Babylon, the world. We cannot have the best of both worlds.

We need to ‘put away the gods which [our] fathers served on the other side’ (Jos 24:13) and to ‘fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth’ (Jos 24:13).

‘Father help us to worship you alone. During this period of saving pause, a divine disruption, help us to ponder afresh who you are: our Creator, our Sovereign Lord!’


Deaconess Dr Vivien Ler