Dear Hope Family,
I hope by now that you have had time to review the Session’s recommendation for a mask-optional environment in our life together at Hope. While this change is perhaps of no surprise to you considering the general shift in our community’s practice and while this decision may be welcome for some and unwelcome for others, we all can use some counsel from God’s Word to steer us along. I humbly offer some of the help I have been gleaning from the Scriptures along the way.
- “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5
- While we may know more about the pandemic than we did this time two years ago, we certainly don’t know everything exhaustively. We do well to clothe ourselves with humility towards the virus, towards each other, and towards our Sovereign God – the fountainhead of the grace we all need.
- “Love one another.” – John 13:34
- What does this love look like?:
- Enter another person’s world
- Identify with their suffering
- Incarnate the love of Christ
- Accept the person with a view towards change
- “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved . . . patience, bearing with one another.” – Colossians 3:12-13
- Give yourself, each other, and our community time and space to process the changes.
- This is not an easy light-switch flip. It will take time to acclimate. Let’s give ourselves and each other that gift of time.
- “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry.” – James 1:19
- Gossip, slander, anger, division come so naturally and easily. Instead of giving in to these community destroying vices, let’s seek to understand – be curious about a person’s position or conviction. Rather than assigning motives or telling ourselves a story about a person’s viewpoint, let’s ask to understand and “be quick to listen”.
- How we speak to and about each other matters deeply. It either adds to or erodes the credibility of the Gospel.
- “Fear God and keep his commandments.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13
- Name what fear it is that unsettles, angers, and casts a shadow over us. It may be fear of contracting the virus or unwittingly transmitting it. It may be the fallout from you or a child being exposed and having life and livelihood disrupted for weeks because of protocols you don’t control.
- Put the fear in its proper place: Derek Kidner wisely concludes, “‘Fear God’ is a call that puts us in our place and all other fears, hopes, and aspirations in their place.”
- We will not serve the fear nor will we dismiss it! We will fear God and live by trust in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself up for us.
I am daily thankful for the limitless supply of free grace God has lavished upon us as a church, and I trust that the grace that has brought us safe thus far will be the grace that will lead us home!
Let’s lean into, anticipate, and extend that grace together.
Grace and peace,