COVID-19 & our Church
Sunday Worship: To Mask or Not to Mask
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others… For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (I Cor 10:23-31)
Last Sunday we had our first outside worship service where the majority of people brought chairs instead of remaining in vehicles. It was a lovely service with so much to celebrate as people connected, the quality of worship was improved because there was less traffic noise, the singing was beautiful, those who wanted to be in their cars were able to be there, and the location proves to be a cooler space which will be helpful as our Iowa summer warms up.
There are also a few lessons that we learned:
- Lesson 1: We need more helpers assisting with the service: take down, parking lot attendant, and a singer. If you are interested contact Samantha Stearns.
- Lesson 2: We are a social bunch. We did not do a great job keeping social distancing or wearing masks. According to the CDC, cloth masks are most essential when social distance is difficult (it is important to note that masks should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old, or anyone who has trouble breathing).
- Lesson 3: We still need to figure out congregational singing. We have arranged the service to have a lot less singing. However, one of the real questions is whether we should sing at all. In order to have congregational singing we really need to do the following: a) be distanced from each other and b) wear a mask while singing.
- Lesson 4: The Holy Spirit is active. Last Sunday, a couple from the neighborhood saw our worship and decided to join us. They thanked me and said they would come again. God is not done with us.
Now for a theological observation. The apostle Paul found the church at Corinth struggling over matters relating to food as some believed they should only eat vegetable while others thought meat was okay to eat. Paul liked meat and believed Christians were entirely free to eat meat; however, for the sake of the gospel, Paul was willing to become a vegetarian. Paul understood that Christians are free to do as they please but at times lay aside their freedom for the sake of the neighbor.
This relates to us as a congregation. All of us are free to worship online, in our cars, with masks or without masks. Personally, I really like singing and I really dislike masks. However, to help my neighbor it is good for me to sit a good distance apart and to sing with a mask on. As your pastor, I encourage you to consider doing the same. In doing this, we create a worship moment that allows everyone a chance to focus on the worship instead of worry about whether they will contact the virus or not.
Finally, there will be people who do not wear masks on Sunday for a variety of reasons (they did not receive the memo, they are visitors, they have heath reasons, or simply will not wear one). This is where I ask you to show kindness to them because the way we treat each other is also part of our witness to the gospel. Personally, I have no doubt that you will all be gracious to each other.
Again, it was such a blessing to worship together under the trees. I look forward to another beautiful service this weekend.