Can we gather in person as church in Red Light? : These are challenging times we live in. Next Friday, Auckland is supposed to move into the Traffic Light System. We will begin on the Red Light. At the red light, it means Churches can meet together again. The question we’ve been discussing as a church relates to the freedom to gather. At Red Light, if we required vaccination certificates to be used to enter our church services, then we can have up to 100 with spacing. However, if we don’t use vaccination certificates, then at Red Light, we would be restricted to 10 people. Another little change, is the Government are discussing whether Pastors and anyone leading a ministry must be double vaccinated to be allowed to serve.
These are huge questions for churches in the coming days and in my work supervising Pastors and Businessmen, I am hearing their struggles and thoughts. The huge issue is on how we obey the law as we are Biblically told to. If we require vaccination certificates to enter the church, we will exclude anyone who, for whatever reason, is unvaccinated from being part of the worshipping community. Alternatively, if we obey the law by not requiring certificates to enter church, we end up with only 10 of us meeting. We can of course continue meeting on Zoom or find other ways of being church. In discussions with those I supervise, the potential for congregations to become divided and antagonistic to each viewpoint is very real.
Jesus confronted a similar dilemma when on the Sabbath he was in a synagogue and man was there with a withered hand. The man would have been unclean and therefore just an observer. The Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. Jesus said “is it lawful to do good or harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill.” The Pharisees were silent. Jesus went ahead and healed the man. Mark records that Jesus was grieved at their hardness of heart. Sticking to the miniscule points of law can blind a person from God’s grace and exclude others from worship.
That’s the thing we face here in some way. The law is the law, and we can righteously follow every point but where does compassion and love over-ride the ‘law.’ Where does self-centredness kick in from the unvaxed or the vaxed? Where does compassion and sacrifice come into the equation? Where does standing on our perceived high ground become a hardening of our hearts?
So many huge questions which as a church we are working through. So far as a church we seem to be working through this with graciousness. Well done people. The Elders are grateful for the feedback you are giving at the end of the services and by individual contact. Today is the last feedback time and on Monday the Elders will be looking at what you have shared, what the Baptist Union are saying, what we perceive God is saying to us and praying hard. We will be looking to make a decision on how we believe we should go on into the Traffic light system. Please keep praying for us and for God’s wisdom and guidance to be clear to us.