I have heard (and often repeated) the phrase, “Fear is the opposite of Faith.“
Fear or Faith?
Are wearing a mask, washing your hands often/thoroughly, and practicing social distancing acts of fear?
Is opening your home or your church, your store or your restaurant with no extra precautions due to COVID-19 an act of faith?
Is being too cautious an act of fear? (What does “too cautious” look like?)
Was shutting down our church at the height of the virus pandemic being too cautious? Was it contradictory to our faith?
To Open or Not to Open
Many questions of fear or faith were posed during our sermon today by Rev. Steve Hundley. I’ve listed ten of them below. We met as a congregation in the church building for the first time in twelve weeks. We’ve been ZOOM meeting since this pandemic was announced in the USA in mid-March.
To keep people safe, every other row of pews was ribboned off and people sat at least six feet apart in the pews.
During the hymns, Fran played a verse on the piano while the congregation either listened, read the words silently in the hymnals, or hummed along. For now, no singing out loud. That was hard for those of us who love to sing.
But the emissions from singing travel farther than those of just talking … some even further than coughing or sneezing. So, we were cautious.
Jim Forsberg provided special music during the service. Playing his guitar and singing… one of the numbers he sang was an old time favorite, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” The lyrics go on to say, “all the children of the world… red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.” So pertinent in light today’s issues of racial inequality.
In the photo above, Jim and his wife, Jo, are chatting with Fran about the music – and I am sure commenting on how good it is to see one another again.
Mask or Not?
This mom had her hands full with this adorable, very active little guy. Murray keeps us all smiling with his exuberant energy. I love seeing the little ones in our worship service. Pastor Steve quoted a doctor at our Madison Valley Medical Center who said masks on children can be more bothersome and dangerous than no mask at all because children have a tendency to touch their face more when wearing one.
Here is Murray’s dad and little sister:
Questions to Ponder
Rev. Steve Hundley posed some very thought-provoking questions in his sermon today. He didn’t really give us answers… just left the questions for us to ponder:
- Is God angry with us?
- Is God larger than this dreaded virus? (He said the affirmative of that was a quote from a pastor who opened his church early on in the pandemic … and later died of the virus)
- Was shutting down the church for 12 weeks contradictory to our faith? (Some of our members were not happy about the closure)
- Why have we allowed partisanship, economics, and race to divide us?
- In spite of their devout faith, why has the Navajo nation been hit so hard by this pandemic? (Their deaths per capita are higher than any state in the union.)
- Is the unity of the church under attack in our polarized world?
- Can we be angry without sin?
- Can we set aside our political stances as conservatives or progressives and just unite to strengthen the body of the church?
- Is it possible for us to focus on what brings us together rather than what separates us?
- When someone leaves the church saying they won’t return because “Nobody cares about me,” and I tell them, “Yes, they do,” and they respond with “OK, name ONE!” Can I name YOU? (This question brought tears to my eyes… I know people who have left, and I wanted to stand up and shout, “I care! Name me!!”)
Fellowship in the foyer after church found people reconnecting, but remaining cautious. Are we maintaining our distance?
It may be easier for us in Montana to try and stay six feet apart, but you will notice in the pictures that even here, we don’t always adhere to that social distancing. It’s difficult! It’s neither foolishness nor fearlessness, it’s just hard!
How are you doing with this business of staying apart? What did you do this Sunday? Did your church meet physically again? If not, how did you worship our God today? Did you approach Him with your most difficult questions?
I hope you are healthy, happy, and safe.
I’ve gotcha in prayer, my friend.
See ya tomorrow.