Plan B at Church by the Bay
By Gerry Straker, 12 Dec 2021
The Government's Plan B is in fact the LORD's Plan A: nothing is outside his control or his purposes. We may find the latest news and the latest laws frustrating as our plans and purposes are rearranged again, but God is at work here. We are to repent and ask for his help and wisdom. He is the one we should fear. But fearing the LORD is about awe, and joy, and wonder at the love he has shown us. We don't need to be afraid, instead we can trust him.
John and I attended an FIEC webinar late afternoon on Friday to work through the new measures and it was good to pray with other Church leaders too.
This is the new situation:
Face-coverings are now mandated inside in many venues including places of worship (this includes buildings that are hired for worship, such as Westgate school). However:
- Masks are not required for people who have medical conditions or children under 11;
- Nor for service leaders, preachers, readers;
- Nor for Church children's events for under 18s (including adults leading those events);
- Masks are also not required for singing. [This is a great joy, a surprise, and also ironic! It seems that the government wants churches to enjoy Christmas carols.]
- Masks may be removed for eating and drinking (and, in fact, are not required in a venue where serving refreshments is the primary purpose).
There are no requirements to socially-distance.
What does all this mean for Church on Sunday?:
- Please wear a mask unless you are exempt.
- You are very welcome to remove your mask to sing!
- On the other hand, if you would rather keep your mask on you can;
- Our socially-distanced area will be for those who are keeping their masks on for singing, to give them some space from those who are singing without masks;
- When eating and drinking, you can remove your mask.
(Note that the Law is for Church premises and not homes. C3 (our small groups) in homes can continue this week with no restrictions. Leaders will liaise with their teams about whether they will ask people to wear masks or not. C3 Women, however, need to wear masks, as do those at Tuesday prayer meeting, as both those meetings are on Church premises).
These new measures will be reviewed by government in three weeks time. No one knows whether things will get easier or tougher - no one that is apart from our great God and Saviour! He's got this. Our plans and expectations may be knocked, but his are not.
People will have differing views on risk and responsibility in our Church: some of you will be happy with these steps, and some of you will be unhappy. Please love others in the way that you speak to others who may disagree with you. Unity is the work of the Spirit, but we must be eager to maintain that unity (Ephesians 4:3). Moreover, most of us will have strong feelings about recent revelations in the news! Yet, all Christians are called to obey the authorities unless and until the authorities call us to disobey God.
This is a time for gathering as Church, and we encourage you to commit to coming to be with your family. This is a time for hearing the Word with God's people and for prayer. Don't be afraid, but trust the Lord; love another (which is complex and glorious); repent; pray for repentance; and pray for help to do what the Lord would have us do in these ongoing strange days we have been given to live in.