and activities have been cancelled until further notice.
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Why Wait to Gather for Worship?
Why indeed should we wait? We are an essential business, we can open now, we can defy the governor’s and NC Synod Bishop’s order. So why wait?
Turns out, we actually had the answer years before we had the question. Remember those unmistakable goldenrod t-shirts that proudly proclaim “God’s Work. Our Hands”? That’s why.
Because while as Christians we strive to do God’s Work, as humans Our Hands (along with the rest of our body) carry germs that can hurt others.
Even when we wash hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, stay at least six feet apart, use face coverings and follow all the other protective measures recommended to us, gathering together in larger groups can have dangerous, and for some, deadly consequences.
While the science is still emerging, here’s what we already know about the COVID-19 virus:
• It is spread through respiratory droplets.
• It is highly contagious and can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms
• Spread happens in close contact such in worship, classes, or group meetings.
• 51% of North Carolinians are at high risk for severe illness from this disease.
So, while we long to worship together, the science tells us that being close to each other for more than a few minutes increases the risk of exposure. Singing, playing wind instruments, even talking in unison increases the risk of spreading the virus. In fact, those actions spread the virus faster and wider due to the speed and distance the aerosol droplets spread.
As God’s people, we are called to love each other, support each other and be in relationship with one another. In the letter of 1st Peter, we are told to greet each other with signs of peace like hugs and a kiss. That makes it even harder to refrain from shaking hands or hugging each other even when we know we’re not supposed to.
No matter how much we all want to return to worshipping the way we used to, the reality is that worship is going to be different for a long while. Gathering too many together too soon can have dangerous results. None of us want to infect or endanger those we are so eager to see.
When God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, that means we’re called put others needs ahead of our wants. And sometimes, like choosing to postpone re-gathering, the harder choice is the best choice. God’s work, our hands, a sign of God’s love and our concern for others. Keep those hands clean, stay safe, and soon, we’ll gather.
Why wait to gather? We wait because we care.