These are scary times! COVID-19 is spreading like wild fire. When will it end? There are more than 100,000 cases in the U.S. I-phones blare with messages to STAY HOME, as required by governmental entities. These orders have been mandated because some Americans weren’t taking recommendations seriously.
Warning: COVID-19 Vs. the Church
Surprising, as I was scrolling through the news, while sipping Chamomile tea, I saw that a pastor in Louisiana was ignoring the warnings. He is the leader of a large Pentecostal church with a diverse congregation. While the New York Governor has praised the impact of physical distancing, this Pastor continues to have packed services. 1800 congregants attended his last Sunday service. Photos showed members sitting inches apart. Some were dawning masks or gloves. Others were hugging. Additionally, some people were bused in because their churches were closed.
Who I Am to Judge COVID-19
This leader basically said that a church wasn’t much good if it caved in to fears and spirits of torment. He strongly feels that church is essential during a pandemic. He feels persecuted and is being faithful from his point of view. Who am I to judge? Churches are definitely essential, but he is failing his flock. Yet, I can understand where he is coming from. A March 26,, 2020 article in Christianity Today quotes Pastor Paul J. James, regarding closing live services, “ it is counterintuitive to most churches, especially Black church…where we’re just glad to get together because of how hard life has been historically for us here in America.” Church leaders have recognized the issue (what do you mean the church is closed?) and taken the longer view that a building does not define a church. From the beginning church has been the people rather than the place.
Moral Judgments Should Prevail
The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) (www.naltblackchurch.com) a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches has urged all church leaders to heed the science and recommendations to encourage members older than 60 to forego in-person church services. The NBCI President mentions that “the bible is clear about using moral judgment in light of our faith.” He explains that God and his word implore us to show faith and heed the sound judgement of doctors, scientists, and others who are trying to keep people safe from COVID-19.
COVID-19’s Impact on Church Events
The Louisiana Pastor noted that none of his members had tested positive for COVID-19. How would he know? –He has nearly 9000 members. The Pastor might have missed the fact that people without symptoms can pass on the virus. You can’t tell by looking. He might have also missed the information that nearly three dozen members of an Arkansas church became positive after attending a church event. Perhaps he didn’t see the news on March 24th that Louisiana had the fastest growing rate of COVID-19 across the world. This virus is contagious and being exposed increases the risk.
Presidential COVID-19 Timeline
On the other hand, perhaps he has heard the news from our President with pursed lips, saying that he would love to see churches packed by Easter Sunday. Is this President trying to take us to HELL? Indeed Easter is important as a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Easter Sunday is usually one of the most well attended church services in the U.S. under ordinary circumstances we would want to capitalize on the opportunity to share the Word. However with COVID-19 cases spreading exponentially it is NOT wise to meet in person, to have a packed church!
In 2020, we can’t afford to turn a blind eye to COVID-19. This is a crisis. There can’t be business as usual. Churches have to model the public health practices. This is a new day that requires the help of all members of society –Christian or not. The church has to use its powerful influence to reach the masses. From a Pew study (https://www.pewforum.org/) 65% of US adults or ~160 million belong to a church. Churches and their flocks are not immune to this virus, but there is HOPE if we follow the wisdom of the experts.
Many churches have made the hard decision to go virtual for Sunday and other services. They are finding creative ways to continue the service mission as well-food boxes, volunteering with other organizations, and financial support for those in need (COVID-19 relief funds).
Suggestions for what you can do to protect yourself and remain faithful:
- Stay in the word. Continue reading your bible and praying in the comfort of your home.
- If your church has virtual services and bible study, participate in that. If they don’t, ask them if they will consider starting. Churchonlineplatform.com is a FREE resource.
- Continue to glorify God by serving others, from 6 feet away.
- On Easter Sunday, if it is your custom to get new clothes and gather as a family, then by all means put on your Sunday best. Gather the family virtually. Take pictures and share. Set a mealtime and share the bounty- all over virtual platforms.
During the COVID- 19 crisis you want to continue the spiritual nourishment. Keep in mind that a true place of worship never closes. Also, The Bible has all the answers. Read Deuteronomy 7:18:
“But do not be afraid of them. Be sure to remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and all Egypt.” Amen.
In closing, check out these benefits of chamomile tea https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/chamomile-tea-benefits-uses.html.
Will you be attending Easter services in person?