This week there has been a lot of media coverage about “opening up” our economy. Also there have been several inquiries to me about when will the churches be allowed to “gather” in our sanctuaries once again.
This is the 6th week of the lock down. We are getting lonely, or weary, or overwhelmed, or anxious or all of the above. Some are wanting some sense of normalcy or the ability to go back to workspaces. Some are unemployed or facing unemployment. We are in the midst of very difficult times on so many levels.
In our church communities we are yearning to be normal again. We are eager to be with our friends and be reassured that all is going to be well.
Why can’t we go back to meeting in our sanctuaries? We can stay six feet apart. We can dispense with the passing of the peace. We can even wear masks when we sing.
The desire for “normal” is huge and deep. I am not sure, however, that what we remember as normal just a few weeks ago will be the normal we find on the other side of the pandemic.
Now is not the time to go back to meeting in our sanctuaries or fellowship halls. We have not flattened the curve. New Jersey is making progress as reported in the daily NJ governor meetings. We will receive instructions on how to enter into the other side soon. Let’s not undo what has been done.
The other reason we need to remember why we are doing all this we are to love The Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and you shall love your neighbors as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37 -38)
Our staying home, our gathering in virtual spaces for worship, study and fellowship is an act of loving our neighbors. As you know, the COVID 19 virus is stealthy. It can infect people who never show symptoms and they then infect others who may become deathly ill. We have no way of knowing currently who is infected and spreading the virus.
In New Jersey over 100,000 have been identified as being infected. Five thousand have died. We know people who have been infected. We know people who have died from the virus. People we love and care for.
To care for our community, we cannot meet until we can be assured that we will not harm anyone.
While we are waiting for the next steps to return to gathering in person, now is the time to engage in imagining what “church” could look like after the pandemic. Wonderful opportunities are opening up to reach people who have lost touch, or haven’t had a church home, or have been a “regular attender”. Now is the time to imagine the new places God is leading your congregation, the presbytery, the church, in mission and ministry.
Yes, online worship is not traditional.
Yes, we are uncomfortable and uncertain.
Yes, we are anxious and uncertain.
Yes, God is walking with us.
Yes, we love the Lord our God and our neighbors as ourselves.