HOLD UNSWERVINGLY TO HOPE
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25
It’s hard not to swerve when the car ahead of you suddenly pulls the emergency brake. The quick reaction isn’t always the best one, especially when others are following you. That is how this season has felt and why I’ve learned to slow down and trust the steady wisdom of our overseers.
This week as we prayerfully considered how to respond to the sudden change to the purple tier, we agreed that it is essential for the church to find ways to continue to gather that are actually safe and not merely compliant as we build God’s church and bring the Good News to those who desperately need it right now. We decided to continue our course of being responsible, reasonable and respectful. This Sunday we will continue to offer options inside, outside and online that allow people to choose what is best for their families.
It is essential for the church to gather
The church (lit. “assembly”) is by nature a group of people gathered. Where two or more of us gather in the name of Jesus, he is in our midst. We can gather in homes, outdoors, underground or on a plane. It doesn’t matter where we meet but it is essential to gather.
The verse from Hebrews tells us why. We can’t hold unswervingly to hope alone. Especially during hard times with the constant shaking we have endured this year. We need to meet together “all the more” during those times. Why?
To hold unswervingly to hope, we need to meet together to encourage each other and point each other to our faithful Lord Jesus.
We’ve all felt the fallout of our disconnection. Isolation is not good for anyone. We need to continue to gather however, wherever, and wherever we can. We need Jesus and we need each other.
Actually Safe and Not Merely Compliant
To accommodate the more restrictive regulations of the purple tier, we considered the option of renting a large tent and putting it on the back parking lot. While this would be outwardly compliant with the guidelines, it would not be as safe as continuing indoors where we have high ceilings, cleanable surfaces and new HVAC filtering systems.
Instead of merely complying with general guidelines to give the appearance of safety, we are choosing to do what is best for our people in our actual situation. We are confident that our safety protocols create a safe and healthy environment. We have a chapel that can seat 600 people, but we are limiting this to 100 per service with seating spread far apart to accommodate different sized groups and families. Our service times have also been shortened and other options remain available to gather and be a part of the church on the patio or even online in the chat.
Responsible, Reasonable and Respectful
We will continue to be responsible. Taking the virus seriously, we ensure extra space, ventilation, sanitation and ask people to wear face coverings indoors and when in close proximity to others. We trust our people to be responsible to make choices that provide for their own safety and the safety of others, especially by staying home if they are ill.
We choose to be reasonable. Creating a safe environment is reasonable. Trying to keep up with constantly changing and often contradictory guidance is not. We will continue to offer reasonable options for safely distanced and ventilated indoor services, outdoor patio seating and live online services. We trust our people to choose the best option for their own families.
We strive to be respectful of each other and of the government. Even as we respectfully disagree with the practicalities of some of the regulations, we respect the intention to keep people safe and slow the spread of the virus. Respecting each other’s rights, space, boundaries, choices and needs, we will honor one another above ourselves.
So this Sunday we will continue to offer safely distanced options indoors, outdoors and online. Please gather with us in one of those locations and engage with others. Don’t give up meeting together. Encourage each other. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. And let’s keep pointing each other to Jesus, the one who is always faithful. Sunday we will give thanks and worship him together.