How are you faring in this Stay-At-Home world? Isolation isn't natural. God created us to be in community with Him in the company of others. Scripture tells us that sin separated us from God and one another. The good news is that Jesus paid the price of our reconciliation with God at the cross. The resurrection proves that reconciliation. Scripture tells us that Jesus established the church to be a community of reconciliation between God and redeemed sinners. Fast forward to 2020. COVID-19 breaks out. Fear takes root. Governments act. We are confronted with the dilemma of how to be the church.
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., the Session (Elders) decided to close the doors of the campus for worship and programming through May 10th. At that time, CDC guidelines declared an 8-week suspension on group meetings. Since then, other levels of government have added their policies.
This past Tuesday, the Session met on a video conference call. A new variable is in play: the PA Governor's Three-Phase Plan to Reopen the Economy. Each phase has a metric that must be maintained for two weeks before progressing to the next phase. The Plan has a "Red - Yellow - Green" coding system. At the moment of my writing this, we are in Red.
How does the Governor's plan relate to FPCB? The Red and Yellow Phases have group size restrictions of 25 people or less. The Green Phase does not mention group size. However, the catch-phrase in "Green" is that
individuals and businesses
must abide by CDC and PA Health Department Guidelines. (Is the church a business? We were deemed to be an "essential business" to offer essential social services during the state-imposed shutdown.)
At this point, the Session has homework to do. What are the CDC and PA Health Department Guidelines for Green? How do we apply them to church life, particularly worship? This will take time, thought, and deliberation.
Like a trapeze artist in the air, we are "betwixt and between." The Holy Spirit has us moving toward Jesus who will catch us. As we fly through the air, a posture of trust is important.
With hands open and extended to the Lord in prayer, Session has decided to continue the closure of campus through the month of May.
This assumes our region being in the Green Phase
. Summer Blast is also canceled for this summer. The planning cycle for Summer Blast has been completely disrupted.
Looking to the Lord, this isn't easy. His word commands us to be together. His word also commands us to submit to governing authorities. Is this contradictory? No. God's ways are not our ways. His ways are higher than ours. And so,"Trust and Obey" is an old hymn that we sing. Trust and obey is what we'll do.
In upcoming editions of emailed news, you will learn of the Session's discernment of what our summer will look like. Be aware that there are many things in tension. Session has State guidelines to consider. Session is also aware that everyone will have their own pace for re-entry.
- People in high-risk groups need to be prudent and work through their fears and concerns. It would be wise to observe trends with COVID-19 infections and the progress of a vaccination.
- If you are ready to jump into your pre-COVID life, consider how you will submit to Romans 15:1 which says, "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." A return to church life is not a matter of unlocking the doors, turning the lights on, and raising the roof. Truth be told, some of us will be together, not all of us.There will be families that limp out of isolation and you won't know it. Therefore, ministries of care and connection need to continue as a top priority.
For now, let look to Jesus and may He see our obedience to Ephesians 5:21 which says, "
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Yes. We are in the air! Let's continue to trust Jesus. He's going to catch us.