I’ve heard most of the arguments for churches staying closed as well as those in favor of resuming gathered worship and, frankly, most of the arguments on both sides are well reasoned and easily supported and, in spite of the quandary in which I find myself, I can respect almost all of the arguments on both sides.
Unfortunately, the Bible does not specifically address how to deal with a pandemic. None of the 613 laws found within scripture addresses this issue. We do not have any, “Thou shall wear a face covering”. Or, “Thou shall wash your hands with warm water for 20 seconds every 30 minutes.” It would be nice if God had issued a “just in case” 11th commandment to Moses on Mt. Sinai that said, “Thou shall not catch a pandemic virus.” Then all we would have to do would be simply just not break that commandment.
Are there risks in returning to gathered church worship? The simple answer is “yes.” Are the risks any greater than going to the grocery store, or the beach or resuming visits with your health care provider? Probably not. We all must continue to be diligent in exercising safety precautions and use good judgement; use the brains God gives us.
Further, as your pastor, I must also consider the risks of us continuing to worship in Diaspora. In my humble opinion, we can no longer risk the spiritual isolation that this pandemic has started – the slow atrophy of our God breathed spiritual life and the sharpening that occurs through fellowship. I think that small churches are uniquely able to be the front runners in being able to reassemble – while using all available safety measures and precautions.
We need each other and we cannot worship or be the most profound example of the Body of Christ without each other. Zoom and other technology platforms have served their roles and will continue to do so for those who cannot yet return to services safely. We need to return to the gathered church and do so in the safest possible way. Know that as we plan our return to gathered worship on May 24th we do not do so haphazardly. We return to gathered worship while taking every possible safety precaution available to us. Your physical safety and your spiritual well-being are both our greatest concerns. We look forward to seeing each other on the 24th, in person or online.