by David Browder
The search for truth has always been very difficult. It has challenged theologians, philosophers, and everyone else since God created human beings. Classical education (a vital component of our school) is predicated on the pursuit of truth and beauty. “Pursuit” because finding perfect truth and beauty has always been elusive, even when their very revelation are right before us in Christ. Our minds and our fallen condition just cannot grasp truth or beauty as clearly as we would like.
Finding truth is even more difficult in our present moment. One might presume that the presence of so much information via technology would make the pursuit of truth easier: quite the opposite. The sheer volume of information out there is overwhelming and paralyzing. In our postmodern society, people can choose their own preferred sources of information and then wrap themselves in their ideological bubbles so tightly that they never encounter a well-reasoned idea which contradicts their own commitments.
This is exacerbated by a widespread distrust of media (much of it warranted) which erodes trust in whatever is reported. Some of the information reported by different sources is completely contradictory. All sides say their information is correct. And there is still so much that we do not know about this coronavirus. These circumstances create a conundrum for any leader charged with leading a ministry and protecting the people placed under his care.
Here we are at Saint Thomas’, struggling to recover from three floods and now two economic downturns. Here is our little band of faithful, thinking about how and when to open our doors and resume our in-person ministry. Our church is essential — essential for our area and essential as an embassy of the Kingdom of God. And so we are in the planning stages of re-opening as we seek to discern the truth as it pertains to this pandemic, our economy, our people, and the people of this area whom we have been called to evangelize.
One thing is for sure: when we re-open, we will not be just as we were before. We have a long way to go before we return to what we all consider “normal”. There will be social distancing. There will be masks. There will be adjustments to how we conduct the service (not to the substance of the service) and how we do our supporting ministries. Christian Education will probably remain online for some time after we re-open. Fellowship gatherings, like Coffee Hours and Potlucks, will be delayed until a later date. We will re-open gradually, not all at once.
The truth is out there. Truth may overlap with our own opinions and the opinions of others, but it is not limited to them. Our job is prayerfully to do our best both to re-open and to protect the people entrusted to us. The cultural right believes we should do one thing and the cultural left believes we should do another. That is not new. I have said all along that it is our job, as Christians, to reform to the Word of God and not to a particular culture. We cannot afford to work ourselves into a fever pitch trying to keep up with the cultural wars. As St. Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Our children trust us, their elders, to protect them and their parents and grandparents. Our young teens and young adults watch to see whether we do what is right or whether we allow ourselves to be carried away by some cultural moment. Many of our older folks, although vulnerable to this virus, are so loyal to this church that they will come back in the face of anything. It is a tremendous honor to pastor all of our wonderful, beloved people; but it is also a tremendous responsibility. It is a responsibility I will not shirk. Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity might say one thing or another about what we ought to do. I, frankly, do not care what they think. What I care about is God and you.
My job and the job of our staff and lay leaders is to do our best to re-open while protecting the people entrusted to us. You may not agree with everything we do, but we promise to do our best to pursue truth and balance the many different factors involved in re-opening safely. I ask for your fervent prayers at this time.
Please pray for God’s guidance at Saint Thomas’. Most assuredly, my prayers are with you. We are all ready to come back. May we do it in such a way that we honor God and show our love for our neighbors.
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