Between Me and God
I’m disappointed. Since the beginning of our season of outdoor summer worship, I’ve been envisioning an energetic, lively, participatory, and unmasked return to indoor worship. We’re still heading back into the Worship Center at Elmhurst CRC as planned, but as you well know by now, Governor J.B. Pritzker has again mandated that masks be worn at all indoors gatherings by everyone 2 years old and older in response to the growing number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations around the state caused by the Delta Variant. So, for the time being, our staff, leaders, and volunteers will be wearing masks indoors for our indoor Sunday worship services, ministries, and meetings, and it’s necessary to request all of us in attendance to do the same.
I’m disappointed because my vision of a worry-free, post -COVID, jubilant congregation will have to wait. On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that my connection to God is much stronger than the thin piece of material covering my mouth. God forbid that I allow a square of cloth to come between my gratitude and my Savior. Perhaps that can also be true of our entire congregation? Perhaps we can still have the worry-free and jubilant parts of worship while still eagerly awaiting the post-COVID part?
Some area churches have decided that the Governor’s recent mandate does not apply to them. If that is so, I’m unclear on what other inconvenient parts of the law might not also apply to the Church. While frustrated by what feels like a step backward, I don’t believe the mask mandate is an attack on my personal faith or on Christianity writ large. We are still free to follow Jesus. We are still free to worship wholeheartedly. We are still free to sing praises, to pray, and to open the Word together. Let’s not let our own resistance and resentment get in the way of that!
The following paragraph (some edits) comes from a letter that went out earlier this week at Parkview Church:
Not many of us enjoy wearing a mask. And whether we might agree with the governor’s decision and/or the effectiveness of mask mitigation doesn’t change his decision. While masking indoors may frustrate some and comfort others, as we have from the beginning of the pandemic, we choose to humbly and respectfully acquiesce to our governing authority – we do so for a reason. When writing to Christians living under Roman rule, the Apostle Paul gave these instructions, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against God himself. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” [Romans 13:1-5]
Yes, and Amen to that. It’s significant that our willingness to wear masks again at Elmhurst CRC is rooted in Scripture. My prayer is that COVID will soon diminish, and the current mandate will be lifted. My vision remains that we will gather together as the people of God with energy, enthusiasm, and joy.
I’m longing for spiritually powerful participation that raises the roof and raises our spirits to a higher reality than the mere circumstances covered by the news. While the post-COVID part of my vision will have to wait, most of it is ready to come true even now. Let’s join together!
Peace to you amidst these complicated days,