The Weekly Update page is extracted from a weekly e-mail sent out by
Assistant Pastor Donna Pollock
What about Easter? All of us are wondering what to do—can we assemble together and hold public worship? I know I want to. So do all my colleagues in ministry. What if we were to meet outdoors…? Yet, if we are wise, sensitive to our neighbors, and considerate of those in authority over us, we would do well to heed the admonition of St. Paul. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. …Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. …He is God’s servant for your good.” (Romans 13.1-4)
If we’re going to be found guilty of anything, maybe it should be of good conduct–in this case, observing the executive order of our governor and the appeal of our president. Yet some will wonder why. How about the pastor of a church in Tampa who was arrested for continuing to hold large church gatherings despite a government order to desist due to COVID-19!? Is that the sort of publicity we really want? While we may have the faith for such public assemblies, others will deem us foolish and accuse us of putting them at risk. Are they mistaken? Aren’t most of us grateful for the polio vaccine, tetanus shots, and rabies immunizations?
My thought: People who wish to be entrusted with authority must learn how to come under authority and to obey.
We have not been forbidden to worship, only from assembling together live, in person, for a season, in order that we might stay alive! The authorities are no threat to good behavior. Are they not watching out for us, trying to protect us from harm? If we refuse to do what’s right in order to protect others, not merely to pursue our own interests, the authorities will be forced to ramp up their rules and impose more stringent controls on our behavior. Some will cry, “Freedom, individual rights!” but the New Testament tells us that personal freedom ends where true love for my neighbor begins. The corona-crisis isn’t about us, but honoring and helping others. What if I decided, independently, that I will never again stop for a red light?
Are those in authority really asking too much of us!? Are they asking anything too difficult?
Instead of defying those in authority who are trying to keep everyone safe, even though we may have faith enough to move mountains, St. Paul reminds us that if we have no love, we gain nothing. What if you survive Covoid-19 but transmit the disease to someone else who expires? Listen to the wisdom of Martin Luther 500 years ago when the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe:
“Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely. …This is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”