It’s Sunday morning, and for the first time in my lifetime (40 years), most churches across America are closed.
Things have changed dramatically in one week.
Last week, we were advised to limit gatherings to no more than 250 people. Today, our gatherings are limited to no more than 10.
Because our church was not closed last Sunday, my husband and I spent a good deal of time discussing if we should attend or not. In the end, he attended but wanted us to stay home. (My oldest and youngest were both suffering allergies.)
In scrolling through Facebook, both last weekend and this week, I was surprised by the number of “debates” that were breaking out concerning church closures.
One meme read, “This is not the time to cancel CHURCH…time to fill the pews not empty them.” Immediately after 9/11, I remember the prayer meetings, the church services, and the candlelight vigils that were held in churches all over our nation. People were looking for answers. They were scared, and they were crying out to God. That was ABSOLUTELY a time to open the church doors and minister to others.
A pandemic the likes of COVID-19 is not.
We don’t know a lot about this virus. We DO know it is EXTREMELY contagious. It is airborne. People can carry it without knowing they have it. This is one of the (many) reasons we are advised to socially distance ourselves….to protect others. And, isn’t one of the markings of a Christian that we think more highly of others than we do ourselves?
I’ve seen it circulate on social media that “God does not give us a spirit of fear,” as if those who did not hold church services cancelled out of fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Wouldn’t that “sound mind” lead you to make good decisions?
“Wait,” you say. “We are not under the authority of the government.” This was an actual comment made to my husband last week. And it is incorrect. Romans 13: 1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which GOD HAS ESTABLISHED” (emphasis mine). This means, that every single official, (yes even those you did not vote for) has been established by God Himself. He puts those He chooses into authority, and we are to submit to them. Romans 13:2 says, “Consequently, whoever rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Do you ignore speed limits?
Refuse to pay taxes?
Of course you don’t. Or you pay some serious consequences.
And, the consequences of going about our normal routines, and not trying to protect the most vulnerable among us is too great a risk to ignore. The government is not closing churches to impede freedom of religion; it is trying to contain a deadly pandemic.
So, as a faithful Christian, what do you do when church services are cancelled?
Well, you remember that YOU are the church….not the pastor, not the deacons, not the building. YOU! If Christ is your Savior, the Holy Spirit lives WITHIN YOU.
You worship in your home. It’s only been in recent history that we have a country with a “church on every corner.” In pioneer times, there were circuit preachers, who travelled from town to town. They did not meet collectively each week (much less 3 times per week). They gathered together every two weeks, or every month. They worshipped in their homes all the other weeks.
We are living in unprecedented times. We are all struggling to find a “normal” right now. But we are also blessed to live in a time in history when we have more technology than ever before.
Here are some ideas on family worship at home:
*Sing praises together. Last Sunday, my kids played the piano and we sang hymns. You do not have to do this. You can find a Christian CD, radio station, or have Alexa play a specific song to sing.
*Read Scripture. Last week, I read Romans 8:18-38. We discussed the verses.
*Pray. We ended our home church time with prayer.
I also found a couple of videos and shared with the kids. One was of an impromptu worship service in a store and one was of the people of Italy standing on balconies singing together. It was moving seeing these people come together in worship as well as in solidarity during their trials.
On Wednesday night, we watched the testimony of Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis who operates the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. It was fascinating to see how God worked in his life to build his amazing ministry. He shared Scriptures as well as his testimony.
My husband listens to podcasts. Church services stream online, and countless sermons can be found on YouTube. There are so many options.
So, during this time of “social distance,” may we look for ways to BE the church: helping those we can, protecting the vulnerable, and PRAYING.
There is no place for condemnation or bickering about churches cancelling their services when we understand that WE are the church.
It’s time to put that into practice.