On ‘Spacial Distancing,’ etc.

Well, it’s time we have a little talk about Covid-19 again.

If you have been paying attention to the news, you know that the infection rates of the virus have been rapidly increasing of late, and hospitalizations are up to the point that some local hospitals are having trouble finding beds for patients. The new Delta variant seems to be more contagious than the first run, and it appears more younger people are now being affected. And the occurrences of “breakthrough” infections of fully vaccinated people are much higher than had been anticipated.

I know many of us are weary of hearing and talking about the virus. There is no shortage of Covid-fatigue, and I don’t mean a symptom of the sickness as much as the non-stop news and the high-volume arguing about how we are to deal with it. Many of us thought that we were all but finished with Covid back in the summer, and were looking forward to getting back to some semblance of normal as the fall approaches. But it appears that the virus isn’t going away any time soon.

The reality is we will probably be dealing with some version of this coronavirus for the rest of our lives, just like with the influenza virus and the common cold. What we must do as Christ-followers is learn how to live our lives with a proper balance of wisdom and faith, all with a selfless focus on loving our neighbor and being considerate to others.

It is not hard to understand that in a church even the size of ours there are all kinds of beliefs and opinions about what our approach should be to Covid. Even if you remove the politics from it all–which should have never entered into the discussion about a virus to begin with–opinions about vaccines and masks and the level of measures that should be taken range from one extreme to the other. And certainly, as we have seen over the last year and a half, one of the biggest dangers of the virus may be its ability to divide us.

By God’s grace, we as a church body navigated the first year of the virus fairly well. We have had somewhere around 70-80 confirmed cases of Covid, but there have been no hospitalizations from our church members, that I know of. And thankfully we have not lost anyone to the virus, at least not yet. The reality is, in time, that will probably change.

In the mean time, we have a responsibility to ourselves, to our families and to our “neighbors” to do a few things. From all indications, a good majority of the regularly attending adults in our church have already been vaccinated, and as stated above, a sizable percentage of our church family have already had the virus. And though there are so many inconsistent reports about who can spread the virus and how it is transmitted, we still need to take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our families and our church family.

As for how all this affects our church gatherings, well there are several measures we need to be sure we are taking. Obviously, as we have said all along–and this should be common sense even if there was no coronavirus–if you are feeling any symptoms of sickness or fever, you should stay at home. Likewise, if you have been around someone who has tested positive for Covid, you will also want to stay away for a period of quarantine, as the CDC recommends.

Also, be sure to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer, which we have available in all over our buildings. We are currently not requiring masks in our services, but we would certainly recommend them, especially if you have concerns about the virus. And no one should be made to feel judged or shamed for wearing a mask, or not.

And we ask that you keep your distance–and refrain from hugs and handshakes for now. We have used the term “spacial distancing” instead of “social distancing,” because by definition we as a church are called to be social. I want us to love one another, care for one another, encourage one another, and bear one another’s burdens–and all those things are “social.” But we can do all of those things even as we try to keep some safe space between us, for now.

Through it all, our calling is to put others first, as Jesus did for us. To be humble, and loving, even toward those we disagree with. And I will add that not only has condescension never worked in trying to persuade others to change their minds, it certainly does not reflect the image of Christ. Don’t give the enemy a foothold! (Ephesians 4:27)

And please pray, both for God’s protection from the virus and from any disunity as a result of it. He has brought us this far, and I am confident He will continue to lead us and provide for us.

I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

–Pastor Ken