Dear Parish Family,
Just when we thought that the challenges might be lightening up a little, we are hit with yet another challenge: masks in public places (indoors, it seems for now) aren't just recommended, but required. This comes in the midst of the report that in many states, in our area the Coronavirus is spreading at a "pandemic" rate. It seems that, although many are becoming infected with the Coronavirus, that it is often among the younger people of our society, and the main cause, at least according to the experts, is due to the combination of a lack of wearing masks, combined with the lack of social distancing.
Therefore, our policy regarding our gathering for worship will remain as it is: masks and social distancing. We had, however, "loosened up" at the office: we had left the door unlocked during office hours and weren't requiring masks (though, we were very conscious of "social distancing"). At this point, I do not know of any adult from St. Luke's who currently (as of my writing this e-blast) has the Coronavirus; but we are taking additional precautions at least through July 31st (at this time).
I know that there are many in our community who are growing tired of the masks, the social distancing, the lack of "church" or "business" or even "life" as usual; and, many are still isolating, which all takes a toll. Further, businesses, or at least some, will continue to struggle, and some even more so. I know of two restaurants, for example, that have "shut down for good" i.e., Bonefish and Carrabba's. That is very sad to me and I know there is more such news to come and is causing many in our community angst, fear, or even anger. It can be very challenging if this continues, as if it isn't already! And, it can be wearying!
Paul writes in his second letter to the Thessalonians (II Thess. 3:13) and to the Galatians (Gal. 6:9) to "not grow weary in well-doing." Well doing isn't just about "being good" as many could spin this. Well doing does include our "being Christ-like" in all ways! Which, right now, rather than focus on the specifically moral implications of this "well doing," I would like to focus on some other implications.
There are many "strong feelings" as to what is going on around us because of the Coronavirus, the economy, and racial tensions. We must, during this time, have a peaceful spirit and a calm voice. It is so easy to get inflammatory; we see this in the news all the time from both the commentators and some of those being interviewed. The challenge for us is to bring "the mind of Christ," the "heart of Christ" and the "fruit of the Spirit" to bear. Even if we are misunderstood or challenged, or even verbally assaulted; a calm voice and a loving spirit is our goal, for our own sake, and the sake of others.
Let me take this idea a little further: we must not only speak, but also act in a "Christ-like" way, bearing the mind of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. And, well doing doesn't just involve how we handle the various tensions and challenges coming our way, but also how we can reach out to others with our hearts, hands, and voices for those who are going through a terrible time spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally, financially.
We can begin by praying and opening up our hearts to how the Lord Jesus might lead us everyday; who the Lord might lay on our hearts to reach out to with a phone call or a kind act (still social distancing, of course, unless we live in the same house). We must seek to know our Lord Jesus through His Word so that we might know the mind and heart of Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit in word and action. And, this begins in our heart and mind. Knowing His Word, seeking the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit, and acting on what He gives to us daily may not make a huge difference in our community today; but will make a difference in those whose lives we touch. And, who knows what the Lord will do through His people when we live as Christ in word and deed!
Let us not grow weary in well doing: for our sake, for the sake of those around us, for the sake of our witness as His people, and for the sake of the world that desperately needs the gospel, whether they know it or not. We can and will make a difference!
With love, in Christ,