Did the Grinch Steal Christmas?
By now, you are aware of the elder’s decision to have livestream only worship for the next three weeks. Already, I have received some negative feedback from that decision. So, I thought it prudent to communicate to the church body my own perspective.
First, there was not a single elder that did not agonize over this decision. We, all to a man, know how important it is to have the body of Christ meet together physically. We need one another’s gifts to sanctify us. So, we did not take this decision lightly. This was not a government decision, nor one based on fear. But the elders considered the evidence. We have fourteen families with the virus active in their households. The entire staff had to quarantine due to an exposure. And our hospital intensive care units (ICU) are at capacity. If someone in the congregation (or a family member/neighbor to which they were exposed) were to become seriously ill, there would be a strain on our hospital system to meet that need. Therefore, it seemed wise in our eyes to suspend public worship temporarily. This was not a decision made due to a lack of faith, but to err on the side of love. I am confident I could stand before God with a clear conscience as an under-shepherd who has been given charge to look after the souls of those in my charge. The decision I made was in love to the Lord’s people. And if you criticize that decision (either publicly or privately), then hopefully you are aware you, also, will have to give a account before God as to whether your criticism was lovingly constructive or divisively destructive.
We, all, are disappointed. It is especially hard this time of year when so many of our families are bereaved and need contact. But let me make this crystal clear- the elders did not cancel Christmas! There is no power that can do that. The first advent did occur. It happened already. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! We can still celebrate! I, for one, am thankful that a vaccine is near. Hopefully, by the Providence of God, we can eliminate this problem of suspending public worship, masks, and social distancing forever.
For myself, I am asking, how can I use this time as a sanctifying experience? How will I use the holidays in this unique season to love Jesus more? Am I truly valuing Christ above all things? What have the past few months revealed about my judgmental attitudes toward others or my own insecurities? I certainly do not want to waste a crisis. Rather, I want to allow him to shine all the more as I experience these hardships.
Let me encourage you to be proactive in your worship. It is important that you actively participate in the corporate worship hour on Sunday morning. Get dressed, tune in, sing, and stand up just as you would if you were physically present. When this occurs, we understand that we all (wherever we are) have come to meet with the Lord. And soon, (perhaps very soon, when he returns), we will be in his presence with nothing to inhibit our worship whatsoever.