By Christie 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, time has come to 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 pandemic. On the one hand the whole world is struggling to understand what is going on and trying to find God in the midst of the pandemic. On the other hand I found ways and means to be a pastoral presence, during these unprecedented times. I sang worship songs to my neighbors and to the community from my patio. I used my piano, audio system, and my children to sing and bless the community. I demonstrated love for my neighbors through these intentional acts of kindness.
Along with a few members of my church, I went into the neighboring community to worship. This was well planned, and we all maintained adequate social distancing along with 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 being put to use amidst this pandemic. As a software engineer, I used technology to bring our community together. I used social media platforms to spread the love of God, to minister to people, conduct funeral services on virtual platforms, celebrate birthdays, and many other virtual meetings.
As I reflected upon my Pastoral Care class during this Spring Semester of 2021, Dr. Ruben explained 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 together 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 forward.”
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 own 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 pandemic or not.
Christie Bernard Thadikonda is a CBF Leadership Scholar pursuing a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Biblical Studies & a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He is actively involved with the Students Ministry, and Community Missions at Gayton Baptist Church in Henrico County, Virginia.