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?