Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Luke 20:1-8

1One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders 2and said to him, "Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?" 3He answered them, "I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: 4Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?" 5They discussed it with one another, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why did you not believe him?' 6But if we say, 'Of human origin,' all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet." 7So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8Then Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."
Clergy friends of mine have been debating the recent Supreme Court decision to bar New York from enforcing strict limits on places of worship during the COVID-19 surge. The general consensus among the theology wonks responding to the news was that the union we share as Christians is mystical and transcends time and space and that putting limits on worship during a pandemic cannot stall the body of Christ.

Another friend responded with a link to a news article about Greece’s Archbishop being hospitalized with Coronavirus symptoms and noted that the Orthodox church had not been restricting the Eucharist because they believed that Christ could not transmit the virus. More progressive Orthodox theologians argue that it is heresy to believe that the virus cannot be transmitted through the Eucharist.

A lawyer offered her opinion that churches should be considered peers with concert halls and theatres and not liquor stores and other shops. 

Who is it that gave you the authority to do these things?

Advent has begun. It is one of two annual seasons of reflection, repentance, and preparation in our Christian calendar. As the pandemic rages on, it is a good time to consider what authority you have and where it comes from. When so little seems inside our control, pause to consider: What is it that you do have power over? Where does your authority come from?

My friends do not have much authority over Supreme Court decisions, but they do have excellent minds for theological reasoning. And, they have the authority to voluntarily move their worship to online-only to protect their communities with what power they have. Their power and authority can only reach so far and do so much, but it is something.

Where will you exert your power? How will you know where your authority comes from? What will you do to take control of your situation?

So little feels inside our control and we like things to be scripted, predictable, and orderly, God of surprises. Help us to harness the power we have to encourage love for our neighbors and to create a better community. Amen.

Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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