Around the world, governments are starting to loosen restrictions from the Coronavirus pandemic. I find this encouraging, and I view it with guarded optimism.
“Guarded”, I say, because we need to be careful. We’ve never been down this road before, so just because we may have more freedom, for example, to go to the hardware store, doesn’t mean that the virus is dead and gone and will never return. We will still need to practise procedures that will keep everyone healthy.
Like me, you may be longing – deeply! – to return to holding public worship gatherings, where we can praise the Lord together, instead of uniting by faith, separately, in our homes, watching modified services broadcast over the Internet. We don’t know when the green light will be given for that. And we will need to be wise in our roll-out of new practices and procedures that will allow us to be together safely.
In the midst of all that, let me encourage you to pray for the leaders of your church. At St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, where I serve, our elders have begun thinking about what will be permitted once gatherings are allowed once again. We don’t know how the government of Ontario will roll out permission together, so we will have to abide by those guidelines, but as a witness to the goodness of God, we will err on the side of caution, because doing so demonstrates our love, and God’s love, for the community.
Let me also encourage you to pray for the people of your community. Pray that they will be released from fear, while not being released from caution. Pray that they will be given wisdom to retain the important habits and practices they have learned through this time of restriction. And pray that people will see that only the gracious hand of God has permitted us all to get through this, and that they will want to respond in worship and praise, gathering with the church in celebration of God’s grace.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18, NLT).