On Masks and Corporate Worship

Dear church family,

You all are almost certainly aware of developments in the state of Michigan concerning precautions against the spread of coronavirus. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order mandating the wearing of masks in public. Here is the relevant material from the order:

Any individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face
covering over their nose and mouth:
a. When in any indoor public space;
b. When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more
from individuals who are not members of their household; and
c. When waiting for or riding on public transportation, while in a taxi or ridesharing vehicle, or when using a private car service as a means of hired

There are some exceptions that you should know about concerning religious worship. First:

The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to individuals who…are officiating at a religious service.

Second, and most important for the members of this church:

Nothing in this order shall be taken to abridge protections guaranteed by the state
or federal constitution under these emergency circumstances, and no individual is
subject to penalty under section 8 of this order for removing a mask while engaging
in religious worship at a house of religious worship. Consistent with guidance from
the CDC, congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during
religious services.

It is our Christian obligation to submit ourselves to the governing authorities whenever possible. For further study, see Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17. Of course, we cannot obey a government if it is actively involved in acts of grave injustice and immorality or if it demands idolatry of us. The early Christians followed Paul’s inspired counsel but would choose execution over kneeling before Caesar as if he were a god.

So to summarize:

(1) We should obey governing authorities unless they require of us that which is immoral or idolatrous. (2) Masks are mandated when in public. (3) There are exemptions for religious worship. (4) Health agencies still recommend the wearing of masks during religious worship.

We are a people of grace and welcome. We are also a people of diverse views on the matters at hand. All I ask of you is that you take seriously God’s will for us as revealed in the Bible and love one another, even across differences of opinion and practice. One of the greatest dangers of our present moment is the race to be seen as righteous. Some do this by wearing a mask and condemning those who don’t. Others do this by not wearing a mask and condemning those who do. The truth is that we are all sinners, and our only hope remains the blood of Jesus shed for our sins. Seek Jesus first, and we’ll figure the other stuff out together.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8).

Pastor Scott

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