Where are we as a church in the pandemic year? We’re somewhere between “Let’s go!” and “Not so fast.”

On the one hand, Coronavirus disruptions have worn us out. It would just feel so good to be back in familiar classrooms on Sunday mornings enjoying loved faces again. Relieved from the hassle of face coverings, even, and from the awkward handshake-or-fistbump-or-elbowbump greeting gyrations. Filling the choir loft and hugging on the way out to the fried chicken place would be such a relief. “Let’s go!”

But on the other hand, the sole biological purpose of a virus is to spread. That’s God’s design. We have learned to respect how God designed fire and electricity. We can no more ask God to bless carelessness toward COVID than we could fault God for upholding the law of gravity (Matt. 4:5-7). We know that the virus spreads, people’s symptoms are unpredictable, and a bad case of COVID-19 is very dangerous for some people. A big outbreak can endanger a lot of people. We know that the bigger the crowd, the higher the risk. The more close interaction there is, the higher the risk. The more exposure between different age groups, the higher the risk. A moment’s honest imagination of “back just like before” in light of the new reality, and we have to say, “Not so fast.”

So, just like we learned as children, responsibility requires living with delayed gratification—and redirection. In-person Sunday School (whenever it returns to the schedule) will be different for a while. Our beloved church-wide Thanksgiving Feast is a recipe for outbreak, so it is cancelled this year. We can connect and give thanks this November in other ways. With prayer and creativity we can explore new methods for being the gathered and scattered church, rising to the post-quarantine challenges for months to come.

And the fact is that the essentials of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and the Great Commandments (Matt. 22:36-40) are beyond the reach of any pandemic virus. Our faithfulness to worship, witness, and grow in grace and Christlike character is limited only by our own resistance to the Holy Spirit. With Jesus, even if returning to all the familiar ways has to be “not so fast,” being the church wherever we are can always be, “Let’s go!”

Yours in Christ,
Bro. Rick

 
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