I made a decision about a week and a half ago to step away from my video/web responsibilities and maybe step away from our church in general. Our plan was always to return to church services when we felt pandemic conditions were safe for all of us in our family. WIth the remaining of us having our second shots scheduled for last week, we had felt that time was approaching and were excited about the return.
Then the email announcing a “mask optional” service in April hit my inbox, and that was just sort of the final thing for me. Previous things mostly involving having to be at church services and seeing several people not wearing their masks and nothing being said to them. I mean, if you’re not enforcing the mask requirement, isn’t it really just a mask-optional service anyway?
I understand the desire to be free of the masks. They’re uncomfortable and inconvenient. I did not grow this long luxurious beard just so I could cover it up with a mask. However, the reason for wearing masks during this time is primarily to protect others, not just ourselves. I really see this meeting in person without masks as an act of selfishness without concern for our neighbors. Yes, we are seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but every epidemiologist and every public health official I can find says that now is not the time to let up our efforts. To do so could result in a third wave of cases.
Early in the pandemic, I was really proud of the response of many churches. It seemed like we were all doing the right thing for the right reasons. Then the lawsuits in North Carolina came saying this was a religious liberty issue (it was, in fact, not) and many churches took the resulting absence of rules for churches as the green light to begin meeting indoors and in-person.
Those that did meet took precautions of limited attendance, social distancing, and, of course, masks. Well, most of them. I had a lot of anti-mask/anti-science stuff going on in my Facebook timeline from people in my church. There was also a lot of ridiculous repeating of talking points by a certain former president. You know, the guy who said masks were recommended, but he wasn’t going to be wearing one?
I’ve lost a couple of y’all because of that last point, but that’s ok.
Did you watch the Grammy’s this year? It was amazing. Because of covid, they broke with the traditional format and it was new and fresh and creative and made the old way look, well, old and tired. I got a little weepy, because I thought that this was exactly what the church should be doing. We should be taking our gatherings out and creating new ways to meet in new places with new formats. However, many of us were so desperate to return to the old formats and ways that we missed a great opportunity. There’s places that did this successfully tho.
We also missed the opportunity to help lead the way out of this. How many lives would have been saved if we had really done our part? How many people are going to have nothing to do with church or Christ because of our actions during all of this?