These Doors Will Open

 

 

       God bless all you dear members of our Savior's flock. I hope you know how deeply you are missed and how greatly you are loved. The pastors here, and their wives, are all praying for you as you endure this painful separation. Our elders, staff members, and other leaders join in those prayers as well, I know. We are praying for your health; for your livelihoods; and for the safety and well-being of all, especially our children and our vulnerable ones. 

Right now, we are also praying for direction. And that is why we are writing to you today. Seven-week ago we were advised by the CDC, and by our President, that normal social distancing was no longer sufficient and that we should shut the doors of our Lord's House for the safety of our community both within and without the church. We all did a great job complying with that, and very cheerfully too. I believe that our submission in that regard was an honor to our Savior. 

Now that we are in the seventh week, and our President and the CDC have issued guidelines for a swift and safe return to work, churches all over America are returning to their worship. 

All across our nation, churches are prayerfully and carefully reopening their doors to congregations of limited size while still maintaining safe social-distancing standards. Churches in California are eager to do the same. Our church is certainly one of them. We were practicing safe standards before our doors were closed. We will certainly do the same when they open again.  

On April 24, our Governor ordered most of California's beaches to be opened, "as long as beachgoers can practice safe social distancing." 

On April 27, Governor Newsom offered his "congratulations to the 40 million citizens of California" saying: "you have bent the curve and stabilized it". During another news conference, he announced his "four-phase plan" for recovery", promising Californians that "within just a few weeks, not months", phase 2 would begin in which even "non-essential businesses would be opening" ("non-essential" mind you!). Included in the sample of "non-essential businesses" were retail stores, manufacturing, child-care facilities, and schools". In fact, he went on to suggest that schools start their next year early.  

Purposely missing from the list were churches which, for no apparent reason, were relegated to "stage 3": a category of enterprises implied to be "worse" than "non-essential"; more "hazardous apparently. And the opening of those, to quote the Governor, "is still months away". 

This week Pastor Dave and Pastor Rod joined a webinar to discuss the significance of this remarkable development. On the panel for discussion was Senator Mike Morell, representing the 23rd District, Brad Dacus from the Pacific Justice Institute, and Robert Tyler, Attorney for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, special adviser to the President, Tony Perkins and the pastors of 500 churches from all over California: all of whom are ready to open their churches to the Worship of God once again. 

Here are some of the bullet points from the meeting last Tuesday: 

The Governor's purposeful exclusion of churches from the list of normal (phase 2) gatherings is wrong and repressive. For the body of believers, church services are the means to find spiritual food, in the same way, we find physical food from a grocery store. With a rise in depression, suicide rates, mental health problems, marital strife, drug use, and alcoholism, churches are needed now more than ever before. Let us be clear: church services are essential. If factories and retail stores can safely accommodate their workers and patrons all day, five days a week, certainly a congregation of the Lord's family can safely gather for one hour on one day of the week. 

  When our Governor announced that our churches would not be open "for months", that probably means September or October at best, when flu season returns, with renewed pressure not to do so. 

We want to remain committed as Christians to "practice peace with all men" (Rom 12:18); to "let our way of life be beyond reproach" (1 Pet 2:12) and to "be subject to our governing authorities" (Rom 13:1). But we also recognize that there is a time to say, with the Apostles: "We must obey God rather than men," (Acts 5: 29) for God has commanded us in his Word: "Do not forsake the assembling together of the saints." (Heb 10:25) 

God has also graciously given us, as Americans a government "by and for the people", with the common duty to confront and even oppose when the government acts unjustly; and a very important part of our First Amendment "is the right to peaceably assemble" against which "Congress shall pass no law". 

The pastors and elders met online last Thursday and decided unanimously that it is time to join the many other churches all over the state, in just...going...back...to worship. 

We will do this with the greatest respect for our governing officials, and with every effort to comply with their expectations. We will also do this with the greatest of care for our safe separation and constant preventative measures. But we are convinced that the time has come when "we must obey God, rather than men."

And we will do this with the utmost sensitivity toward those among us who might feel uncomfortable with such a move. That is not at all hard to understand. Or those who might yet feel unsafe. We will continue all of our wonderful online worship and other programs for those who still need it, and we will be perfectly one with them. 

We're looking at May 17. And already a number of pastors, right here in Orange and Riverside Counties, are getting on board with that date. 

It's exciting; a little nerve-wracking. But we feel the Lord's directing hand in this. And we remember what He has told us: "Who can harm you if you are eager to do what is good?" 1 Pet 3:13

 

Till then see you online!                        Pastor Dave and Rod.

 

 

Prepare to Reopen!
His Image...in You!