We are moving in uncharted waters. Things are emotionally charged. There are many conflicting "expert" opinions about the virus and how we should respond. We all want the churches to start holding public services: it's just a matter of when. The Governor of Minnesota says it is too early. Catholics and the the Missouri Synod Lutherans are planning to ignore his order. A judge will be hearing a case about the issue on Tuesday. President Trump is demanding that churches be opened immediately. It is a fluid situation and you are hearing from many people. I hesitate to add my voice to the din, but think it is important that you know how I am thinking about this situation.
Given my conversations with European friends, I know that this virus has the potential to cause our hospitals to be overrun so I am grateful that our leaders have taken steps to be ready. I sympathize with those who have been harmed economically. While this has been hard on all of us, it has been significantly more difficult for some. I desperately want to get back to normal life, but I am concerned that opening too quickly may cause unnecessary suffering and loss of life if our hospitals cannot handle the surge. I also don't want our church to become a hot-spot. It would be a tragedy to have any of our members become seriously ill or die. Furthermore, it could damage our ability to reach into our community for a long time. We need to move with the wisdom of the Lord.
As the pastor of Word of Life, I have a deeper concern than just when we open: it is how we walk through this time together. Given the strong emotions and diversity of opinions, there is an opportunity for the enemy to sow divisions in our relationships with one another. The broader culture is one that seeks to separate issues into "us" versus "them". It is quick to assign derogatory labels to people with different opinions. This tendency can easily spill over and affect how we regard other people in the church who may think differently than we do. I want us to be an example of being unified in Christ despite having differences of opinion during these emotionally charged days.
Toward that end I am asking each of us to spend extra time in prayer and reading the Word. We need to be careful to hear his voice in the midst of this storm. So let's intentionally turn down the outside voices and seek the one who knows all things. Let's ask him to teach us and to break any sinful thought patterns that have developed in our lives. Let's ask him to purify our thoughts and give us gracious words to speak. He is the one we seek to follow together. May the fruit of the Spirit be remarkably present in our midst.
I would also ask each of you to spend time praying for the leaders over you. Pray for President Trump and his advisors. Pray for Congress. Pray for Governor Walz and local leaders. They are all faced with difficult problems and need wisdom.
Finally, please pray for the leaders of Word of Life. The elders will be meeting on Tuesday evening to pray and discern the way forward for our church. Lift them up in prayer. In fact, I would encourage you to consider fasting at least one meal that day to seek the Lord. It is that important.
May we bring him glory in these days.
Word of Life Staff
A place for the Word of Life staff and guest writers to share of themselves in writing with the Word of Life family.