Easter again…

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb…….

It will be Easter again soon. Since last Easter (2020) our communities have had an up and down ride . Red zone, Grey zone, Orange zone but never a Normal zone. Let’s face it, it has been a tough year. Family visits are few and then only at a distance. Being careful, every time we go out. The masks are ever in our faces. We have come full circle back to the beginning. The 3rd wave they say.

But this virus is mean and nasty. Deadly in fact. And can be compared to the world-wide devastation that the Spanish Flu caused back in 1918-1919. (between 20 and 100 million people died, including some 50,000 Canadians.)

I think, the thing that bothers us the most is that we are not able to see the scope of it all. We are lost in the numbers and we are asking how does this affect us? How will it end? Sure the cities is where the problems are worse, but out here in rural Ontario, we are fine. And so we hear the loud and getting louder voices of denial. Those voices say: Where is the virus? We are all OK here and have not seen any bad scenes. None of my friends have been hurt. We think it is all over the top, these precautions are just scare tactics. Yet now we see (and experience close-up from friends affected) that the variants are making more people sick and appear to be harder to spot and control.

I guess what annoys (hurts) the most as the shouts of Pandemic gets louder, is that among all those voices which rebel (deny) against the ‘wise experts precautions’ (we are in this together: theme) about gatherings in groups especially without masks etc. there are many religious voices pushing the ‘it’s not so bad here’ and ‘no (authority) government’ can interfere in what we think and do especially at our worship centres and churches. Give us Freedom. Yes, they may be the ‘conservatives’ extremes, but still, should they (the ones who believe Jesus came and gave his life for the sins of the world) not be the ones that at least would consider carefulness (thankfulness) for their neighbour’s well-being? be serious in their consideration for the full expression of healthy kindness? and be thankful and compassionate for the giant exhausting efforts of our Medical care-givers? and eager to help in the task to see us all safe and the Covid patient admittance numbers go down? (see news reports about: pastor of Grace Life Church in Alberta, and Trinity Bible Chapel in Woolwich, ON and also Kingdom Worship Centre in Hamilton, ON and others)

Again and again, I have watched the reports on news media by the Premiers and Regional and City health officers who with anguish in their faces must count out to us the deaths of people everyday. Deaths that resulted sometimes from neglect and carelessness, crowds mingling together without any protection. Deaths that could have been prevented by simple kindness; wear a mask and wash your hands, stay home and minimize your contacts. Do not be a ‘spreader’ but a ‘helper’ and ‘protector’. Health leaders who in desperation demand that limits be placed on our communities to stop the spread and the filling up of hospital ICU beds with very, very sick people attended by care-givers that are tired and tired from the heavily loads they must bear with long work hours. Situations of panic and shortness of breath and energy, blood clots and life support machines. And so out of desperation our communities are put on hold and our normalcy is curtailed by sharp authoritarian rules. What is the normal again? How should we live? This is a world-wide pandemic!

Some authorities (beside masks and social distancing rules) (en)forced very strong community lock downs with no street access at certain times especially during the night to stop people from gathering in groups and having parties. Recently churches in Scotland rebelled against the harsh rule: Close the churches! No admittance! The authorities who meant well (to protect the people) when challenged in courts were found to be over zealous. Closure? No, but limited attendance with cautions, Yes! (the judge said: Yes, the virus is deadly and the care of the sick is urgent, with limited space and help and much PPE precaution.)

Is this a Freedom of Religion issue? Are the authorities telling us we cannot worship unless they give their permission? Is this obeying God versus obeying Caesar? Are we betraying our love for God by allowing to be persuaded by the governing (health concerns) authorities and the mass culture around us?

In his ruling in the Scottish case, the judge said: “It is impossible to measure the effect of those restrictions on those who hold religious beliefs. It goes beyond mere loss of companionship and an inability to attend a lunch club. I have not decided that all churches must immediately open or that it is safe to do so, or even that no restrictions at all be justified. All I have decided is that the regulations which are challenged went further than they were lawfully able to do in the circumstances which existed when they were made.” The Rev. Dr. Phillip (Glasgow) said on welcoming the ruling: “We realized the serious decisions to be made in response to the pandemic. However, the approach of the authorities to banning and criminalizing gathered church worship was clearly an over-reach and disproportionate. A dangerous precedent.” (source: BBC)

In perhaps another extreme at the Kingdom Worship Centre where people were seen in a worship video (March 18) without masks and gathering in groups in the sanctuary, the Pastor was quoted as saying: “The church has gotten so caught up with fear of Covid-19 that it thinks that people who are willing to risk their lives ( going to a worship service without masks etc) for the Gospel are careless people. That’s a lie from the pit of hell. These people care.” He further said: They (the people) need more than a mask, they need to see smiling faces, they need to feel somebody’s embrace. “The church must be willing to take the risk”. (Hamilton Spectator March 29, 2021) 10 people were later tested with Covid infections.

So where lies the moral decency and safe side on this pandemic road?

Some of us have to work, our communities must be maintained or else daily living will deteriorate with its subsequent results, our well-being then is threatened and will stop. Medical services and the like, and other maintenance concerns that contribute to that well-being for all of us are a must-do and must-have reality.

Where are you in all this? I urge you: be kind, keep your distance, wear your masks, be reasonable in your gatherings. Listen to the doctors. Remember the seniors and those who are health concerns. Let’s get THROUGH this TOGETHER. Love your neighbour as yourself. God bless you all.

They say with the coming vaccines there is light at the end of this bad time. A patch of blue sky at the end of our dark night. I hope! and I pray the vaccines will protect us and if we get sick, we will only experience a casual sickness and eventually all of us will have total indemnity and get back to NORMAL LIVING!

I will be getting my shot this week and hopefully the second a few moths later, and pray that they will be effective to protect me and so protect YOU against this terrible disease.

Happy Easter (worship) to you all. Let’s celebrate new beginnings through the power of our resurrected Lord.

JS March 21, 2021

Gospel of LUKE chapter 24: On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.