August-September 2021: From The Minister’s Mask Drawer
Well, precedent seems to be making a comeback (or trying). After 16 months of lockdown, restrictions, masks, and fatalities we are being invited to have a go at normal. Some cannot wait; some have brought immense pressure to bear and they are currently saying ‘yes cases and fatality will go through the roof but we have to live with it’. And in a sense the day will have to come when we do bite the bullet.
Others (especially medics) are urging caution, and as the cases rise it has merit. We have vaccines but if more new variants rock up that are not scared of the jab we will be in a pickle.
In a few churches the subject is providing noticeable heat where people are insisting on ditching all the restrictions and going back to normal worship immediately. However they are not being tested before skipping down the aisle. People seem divided and some are very vocal but should we ditch the things that have kept us safe at this moment in time. I note that transport providers are split on the way forward. Manchester has done away with face coverings so as not to suggest their system is less safe for passengers than other places of assembly. Transport for London and the London Mayor are keeping masks on the system so people can feel safe. One approach to protect revenue, the second looks to protect others. Which impresses you more.
I try and guard against over using certain scriptures but some come to mind for different subjects on a regular basis. One of these is Matthew 25:41 Jesus is talking of the sheep and goats, he has just congratulated those who have looked after others and now he challenges those who have not. The first lot didn’t know they had done the right thing; the second lot don’t know there is a problem or why. And what comes next is not what you want to hear because not only did they not look after people with a need, they didn’t by default look after God. Thus they are out of the running for the blessing. It is harsh but it has a message that living for self is missing a point that we must live by for others. Living for self is a fail throughout the Gospel. God is not impressed.
Listen to what Jesus said:
Matt 25-41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The Queen understood the matter when she was asked if people should be vaccinated and she said simply ‘you should do it for others’. Wearing masks a bit longer, not singing just yet, and giving space will help a lot of people to emerge or keep coming to church etc because all are making a sacrifice. Live for others not for self. And it’s a great cure for the next line.
Jesus said ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Keep safe . .