“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” John 4:23
Among the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic is the shuttering of churches. The decision to close has good cause. The gathering of people in close proximity from all parts of a community—to sing hymns, speak to one another, and give hugs—becomes a petri dish to cook up viral spread. Ick.
We as Christians are responsible to protect each other in times of danger and trouble. No caring clergy or church leaders would willfully desire either the closing of church doors or the careless disregard for health of their constituents. Thus, the pandemic with its government mandates/guidelines has put many of us in a quandary. Do we gather as a body to worship on the Lord’s Day? Do we abstain? How does corporate worship look in pandemic days?
Unfortunately, since the devil just loves to stir up strife, these decisions have pitted us against each other in the body. Masking vs. unmasking has led some to abandon their church families. Harsh words, spoken in defense or recklessness, have caused rifts among those in leadership. Brothers and sisters, it shouldn’t be this way.
First and foremost, if you’re a Christ-follower, worship is a huge privilege of our faith. We are commanded to keep the Sabbath holy, gather with fellow believers to share sacraments, and worship our Lord in spirit and in truth. Those of us living in free countries need to remember how blessed we are to worship God without fear of retribution. We need to be very thankful!
But how that all plays out in a pandemic is a matter of personal conviction. If you or close loved ones are at particular risk, you have a responsibility to be careful. If you’re a church leader, you must constantly seek God’s leading in following the government mandates/guidelines in a way that honors civic leaders as well as the needs of your flock. Whatever your situation, you have a responsibility to respect others, masked or unmasked, at a social distance. And we all need to cool the anxiety.
Praise God for the advances of technology that allow many churches to gather virtually! We can worship together from anywhere, on computers or smart phones. We can praise Him in the great outdoors, from our cars at drive-in services, or as we’re tucked safely inside our homes. We can visit other churches, listen to Christian music online, and study our Bibles by teleconference.
In the U.S. now, many churches are meeting outdoors—our church is one of them. We’ve been blessed to gather in our parking lot for early morning services, bringing our lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy hymns and preaching al fresco. For more than two months, we have been able to meet consecutively without a single drop of rain! Praise God! We’re in good fellowship with our sister congregations in other countries that have met outdoors for centuries.
If your home church is closed, consider shifting your worship locale temporarily to another church body…this is not a sin but actually advisable so you can keep in the habit of worship.
Not plugged in anywhere at the moment? Go on virtual visits to churches in your community. Download sermons, watch televised services, or even invite your friends to join you in socially-distanced worship in a park or backyard.
For those without Internet access, the struggle to get to a place of worship becomes harder. Do not give up hope nor the practice of private worship on His day. Link hands with your household family, read your Bible, and seek God’s presence.
When the coronavirus spread subsides, renew your commitment to worshipping God in the company and fellowship of believers. Make it your mission to get connected in a time-sacrificial way with a church. It’s vital for your faith, spiritual growth, and your mission as Christ’s ambassador to the world. Hold up your hands to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit, poured over your soul in worship!
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Holy Spirit, lead us as Christians and church leaders to follow Your lead in worship. Help us always to worship You in spirit and in truth, with Your Scriptures as our guide. Grant us wisdom and patience with each other in these troublesome times. Let us never neglect the tremendous privilege You have given us through Your Son, Jesus Christ, to enter into Your presence with thanksgiving and praise. In Your blessed name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2020 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative