Business closed, people quarantined, travel restricted — by any measure, this has been a crazy time. So, I understand why people are freaked out, and the need to keep our members and congregations safe. But, as Christians, it’s important to remember that the Lord does not give us a spirit of fear. It saddened me how easily many of our churches agreed to suspend services this past year. I am not saddened because I doubt the severity of the pandemic but because of the danger of another pandemic, one the church has been facing since the beginning of time: sin.
I believe that not worshipping together has put many of my fellow Christian’s faith in danger. Without the nutrients of God’s Word to sustain them, without receiving Christ’s body and blood with fellow believers, many of our brothers and sisters have been weaned from attending worship and fallen away.
Please understand, I am not sowing the seeds of rebellion against the governing authorities. But, when those in power call on us to do things that damage the faith of others, are we not called to obey God, rather than men (Acts 5:29)? Should we not have more fear of the fires of damnation than the death of the body (Matt. 10:28)? Forgive me if this seems extreme, but I remember hearing of a German prince kneeling before his emperor and saying, “Before I allow anyone to take away my faith, I shall kneel and let him strike off my head.”
We should have stood firm from the beginning. We should never take our worship for granted, nor should we ever give up the practice of meeting together, which is, I believe, the advice of the writer to the Hebrews as well. The Word of God must be preached, especially now in this time of testing.
My thoughts and prayers are, as always with our church body and nation. But let us worship boldly, now and forever, trusting only in His grace. Amen.
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8 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: Faith in a Pandemic”
Streaming services online has not harmed my faith, but attending service and being among those who refuse to wear masks because of selfish notions of “freedom/liberty” has. It shows a complete lack of respect and consideration for those around them. For an aging and DECLINING denomination, one would think better care would be taken for its’ members.
I’m glad to hear that you have been able to continue attending services online. There are significant concerns with online services, however. In addition to the letter above, I would commend for your listening this excellent interview with Dr. Joel Biermann, one of the LCMS’s seminary professors. He does not approach the issue with a focus on personal freedoms or liberties, but what best serves the church.
Joy is approaching the question from the same concern.
Thanks, that was an interesting listen. However, I don’t think live streaming is the solution. I agree that we should be gathering together, in person, to receive God’s gifts. I am prevented from doing this because of those who are too selfish and politically motivated to wear a mask during the service. It’s not too much to ask…wear a mask, if not for your safety then do it for others around you. If you don’t believe in the effectiveness of mask wearing, who cares? Don’t provoke offense for those who do. We can and should still gather, but we can be safe and considerate about it as well.
My soul needs to be at worship together with other christians. Christ died to save my soul. My body is dying everyday at 86 plus it is clear to see and I also live in this body for this time. My times is in His Hands. Psalm 31. God gives Sure trust in Him for everything.
Thank GOD for congregations that immediately delivered Services by Virtual Methods! 5 of our Circuit Churches Oklahoma remained open, 5 experienced Covid membership illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. Now, March 2021, our Circuit churches have slowly reopened, yet with masking, distancing, and hands sanatised.
The writer mentions a passage in Hebrews (Hebrews 10:24-25) that admonishes Christians to meet together. The reason given there for meeting is “to stir up one another to love and good works … encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” It’s about mutual, supportive interaction motivated by God’s own love for us. And that can continue in a number of ways even when gathering as a congregation in person becomes problematic because of public health concerns.
In my estimation, my Bible study group has actually grown closer since the coronavirus arrived in our community. We’ve been meeting via Zoom and now have participants joining weekly from three different states. Our understanding of Scripture and our concern for each other have both deepened as we continue to face these difficult times physically apart. There is real joy.
We can certainly continue to be the church even when we can’t get to church. Most everyone can at least pick up a phone and reach out to show concern for a brother or sister in the Lord. Those kinds of contacts are more valuable now than ever. Congregations, Christian households, and even individual church members who adapt creatively and with zeal to fulfill their mission in these difficult times may consequently see more reasons to be thankful for unanticipated blessings and show less interest in lamenting what has changed.
“[B]less, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9 ESV)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10 ESV)
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)
I’m glad to hear that your Bible study has grown closer as a result of COVID. Yesterday I was speaking with a pastor who echoed words from Rev. Wurst in our June/July 2020 issue. Rev. Wurst (and this pastor) noted how COVID has been good for us as a church, primarily in helping us see and repent of our idols.
As for Joy’s letter, I think we do well to hear and appreciate her admonition. While we might have grown together, online worship — in particular — cannot be a substitute for the regular gathering of God’s people. Dr. Joel Biermann has addressed this very well in an article and podcast with Issues Etc. this last December. They’re well worth reading.
If there is one thing I am grateful for, it is that if nothing else, this pandemic has forced the church to put a priority on providing access through the internet, which will clearly be a very important part of ministry, already is one, and will only grow.
Even the darkest days will have a hint of light after all.
God bless yo.