At the time I write this blog, churches have been closed for more than two months.
I know this has been difficult. I know that many want to return to communal worship.
We look at crowded parking lots and open parks and trails. We wonder why we can’t gather to worship?
I live in Ontario, Canada. We are still prohibited gatherings of more than five. And so we will continue to livestream our service and experience a shared worship experience with those who come online.
South of the border there is pressure from the highest levels for churches to open up. I know this pressure is starting to be felt here in Canada too. And I will not deny that I long for the day when I can gather with my church family.
The reality is that people can social distance on a beach or in a park or while shopping They might choose not to do so but it is possible.
But there is so much about communal worship that is inherently high risk during a pandemic.
It involves the gathering of unscreened people in an enclosed, indoor space. If just one is ill that can lead to a chain of infections. Some large churches might find it impossible to social distance. There will be singing. We will instinctively want to hug and greet each other.
It can be very risky for sure. And although all these activities feed our soul, none of them are truly essential for the Christian journey. Highly beneficial yes. But not essential.
Paul wrote many of his Epistles, full of profound spiritual truths, when he was in a horrible Roman prison. And those words have nourished the Church for centuries. That was his legacy.
John wrote the Book of Revelations while he was in exile.
We can certainly carry on with our spiritual disciplines in our homes, knowing that this will pass eventually.
This can be a time when the Church rises up and speaks love and shows love. Or it can be a time when we demand our rights to ignore risk and gather together.
I choose the former.
The church I attended as a young person had the words of Micah 6:8 inscribed behind the platform. For eight years, I worshipped with that congregation and read those words over and over during the services. I know they profoundly influenced my spiritual development.
What does the Lord require of me? To…
*Walk humbly with God.
I do not need to be in a church building to do these things.
Perhaps during a pandemic, these words are even more relevant. To choose to treat everyone in a just manner. Not demanding my right to worship if it would put others at risk. To show mercy to all who are struggling with isolation and to those who have a different view of how we should navigate these times. To walk humbly with the God I trust. He knows the way through this wilderness. I just need to follow.
What does the Lord require of us?
What will be the legacy that we leave for all those who follow us in the years ahead?