Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.Isa 43:19
Switzerland has navigated the CoViD-19 lockdown quite well. We had lockdown from March 16 and started re-opening very carefully end of April.
We still have certain measures in place like social distancing and hygiene. We still encourage working from home. But we have had below 50 new cases per day since mid of May.
People are weary of the measures, political parties want the national government to return powers to the parliament and cantons fully.
In church meetings, we need to make sure that people are at distance. There is no singing allowed, but still we sing.
During the lockdown, we have held many meetings online, and some continue with that in addition to restarting in-person meetings. Some churches encourage their elderly to still stay home.
Traffic had been down more than 50%, but is picking up and back to normal. Trains and busses are crammed and almost nobody is wearing facial masks.
I think we behave just like most other people.
During the lockdown, there was no shortage of anything. OK, there was the starting week where toilet paper was rare, and then there was a certain week you could not get yeast. But things functioned well.
I thought back 150 years. Switzerland was the poor house of Europe, alongside Ireland. The means we accrued our wealth with were not always pure and legal. We dealt with parts of that, and other things are still unchallenged.
We are so privileged to be a nation with great stability and great wealth. We are on the other side more and more dependent on the rest of the world, having no natural goods and depending on services and mere value add on stuff we import.
Historically, we love to point to our Christian heritage. It is about as Christian as all the other nations in western Europe. We love to point to the myth of our forefathers founding our country in the name of God, and still we have the preamble of our constitution alluding to his name.
But let’s face it: in a time when there was but one philosophical system, one would adhere to that system automatically. Until the reformation, there was but catholicism—after we had been christianised by Irish monks.
Our history was bloody. We were the elite soldiers in Europe, fighters for foreign kingdoms, usually sold by our own aristocracy or governments.
We were forefront in the reformation with Zwingli and Calvin. We also thwarted the anabaptists from going any further and drowned them in our rivers or had them flee to the US.
What do I want to say with all this: We are a normal country with a mixed historical record. We were blessed by God, and the philosophy and theology of protestantism had our industriousness flourish, as mainly Calvinism attributed right faith to those that succeeded.
But still, the reformation led, among other sources, to industrialisation, enlightenment, and finally brought us into a post-christian era. There is a very small number of people that still go to church and identify as Christians, in the low one-digit percentages.
We are a humanistic and in a philosophical sense modern and post-modern society with an ever smaller portion of traditionalists.
A few years ago, God spoke those words several times in our church:”I want to finish what I started here 500 years ago.”
500 years ago was the reformation, and we all know that God could not and did not bring to an end what he wants to restore or install for a very first time back then.
For years, most prophecies point to something new that God wants to do.
Now, it depends greatly what you mean by new. Most fundamentalist, traditional churches define new as re-kindling what has been lost. A new vigor, a new move of God as we have seen them in years past.
When I look at the great new idea of the reformation, I see something totally different. The idea of the individual that is valuable and valued in and off itself can be shown to have originated in the reformation and its time. Never before in history a man or a woman have been viewed as individuals, but only as parts of certain groups or tribes. Even heroes had only been valued in their service of others.
Personally, I am convinced that the new that God is planning is truly new. It will be propelling us forward on our journey to become and believe that we are God’s children, born into the company of firstborns, and bring us into a greater understanding and consciousness.
Since traditionalism has been on the decline, the church has lost its thought leadership here in Switzerland. It is not attractive to go back to a pre-rational, pre-scientific worldview that values some over others with hierarchical power structures and a very questionable history. And this is how we are viewed by society, as much as you might think that this view is wrong.
We can attain thought leadership again in two ways: One way is to hope that the world is breaking down into chaos. Christian church order and rules will then be very welcome as something to bring back order to chaos.
The other way is to change as church and see what new God is doing to make our gospel an uplifting message again that people value, without having survival needs or existential angsts that force them to accept it to survive.
We as Christians seem to have accepted the first one as the only possibility, and trust God to make things worse so that we gain back some raison d’être. Hence our interpretations of the book of Revelation.
Personally, I feel that God wants to bring forth a wonderful church that outgrows its moral supremacy, embraces grace, and goes on a genuine search for the new that God wants to bring. I believe that the message of the church will once again change dramatically. That way, we as humanity will go from glory to glory.
I know that you all wanted to hear what God is doing in Switzerland. Most Christians here would tell you that I am wrong in my assessment.
They would tell you that God is going to bring forth a new wave of the Spirit comparable to what we had in the past, a great harvest in the midst of oppression and turmoil. That we as a church have everything we need, especially all the knowledge there is, and that we only necessitate to be more courageous, have more commitment.
They would say that maybe our form will change: other ways of arranging our chairs, or adjusting the length of our messages to the ever shorter attention span of our traditional Christians we already have in our meetings. One will say less teaching, more prayer, while the other will double down on the moral teachings.
Just as with the lockdown, which I see as a great chance to change some things in our culture, to cut down on traffic and pollution, and to have more patience and love for our neighbors again, the chance is probably going to be lost because everybody just wants to go back to normal. We will probably miss the call of God and miss the new.
We are in a wonderful time, and most are going to miss it. Personally, I believe that once more, there will be a small number of Calebs and Joshuas that know, and they will faithfully train the next generation for the next time the new is offered.
But still I hope that things will turn and we will grasp whatever God has in store for us, as hard as it might be for our thinkers and feelers.
How about you?