Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Safe distance. . .
It is strange that along with this has come the silence that is deafening -- the tacit admission that the church is non-essential and that worship is merely a social gathering. Abortion clinics, cannabis dispensaries, beer distributors, veterinary clinics, and a host of other odd things are essential but not the church. They are important to the quality of life and we as people have rights to maintain in nearly every area but the church and worship. How strange it is that churches have not simply shuttered their doors but given in to the prevailing idea that right to practice your faith unhindered by regulatory restraint is relative and that nothing the church does is all that important or essential to life.
Just to make clear my point. I am not saying that the church should do her business like usual as if nothing were out of the ordinary. Of course not. But there is a big gulf between our locked doors and creative ways to serve the faithful within the constraints of reason, caution, and good medical advice. It seems as if we have quickly agreed that virtual reality is a good substitute for the personal and that we have no other choice but to surrender to closure.
Think about this. We are told over and over again the many, perhaps the vast majority, of church buildings are mostly empty on Sunday morning. How hard can it be to find a way to respect social distance and continue services? It is not as if we would have to find larger venues. Furthermore, why is the option of more services with smaller attendance dismissed so frequently? Rome can get by with the idea that the Mass can be said without people present and they still benefit from its grace but no Lutheran should agree to that.
Strange also is that all of this has one goal and purpose: the preservation of health. Yet this goal and purpose is routinely flaunted in pursuit of abortion without restriction and assisted suicide for those who believe their lives are not worth living. How odd that one goal should conflict with another so entrenched with the liberal and progressive wing that is at the forefront of shuttering the church in time of epidemic?
I find it hard to believe that if a grocery store, abortion clinic, vet clinic, cannabis dispensary, liquor store, etc., can be open and safe that churches are by nature unsafe. How curious it is that we would prefer close proximity to strangers in pursuit of a loaf of bread or roll of toilet paper but cannot abide the prospect of being within a couple of yards of the folks with whom we have shared the pew for many years? Am I wrong in this or is something simply off with such logic and presuposition?
The office of the pope reported that if the church abandons the people in this crisis, the people will abandon it. Another commentator suggested masses without the faithful will soon lead to a country without masses (and if you are certain Lutherans, insert your favorite substitute for mass). Unless we as religious leaders reopen the churches, we will have given our quiet agreement to the proposition that the church is always non-essential, worship need not be in person, and the concerns of mortal life are greater than eternal life. Are we ready to give such things our tacit approval? If not, perhaps we ought to rethink what we are doing and not doing, what we are saying and not saying.