Many of us have become so used to the restrictions that to live without them seems risqué and foolhardy. Who could have imagined 16 months ago that we’d feel odd going into a store without a face mask on? I think that quite possibly the most challenging thing facing people of faith as we navigate Stage 3 reopening in the province is determining where caution ends and where fear begins. Fortunately, the Bible has some helping words.
I appreciate Proverbs 14:16, which tells us, “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.” So there’s definitely a place for caution in how we live our lives. Perhaps some will continue to wear masks for a few weeks more. We might want to see numbers of new cases continue to fall before we bare our smile in public again. Perhaps we choose to wait a month or two before giving a handshake during the Passing of the Peace on Sunday mornings.
Paul tells the early church at Corinth that “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33) He reminds us to allow space for both those who are fully vaccinated and ready to live without restrictions, as well as space for those who remain cautious. This might look like having half our sanctuary marked for social distancing and set aside for those who wish to remain masked, and half available without restrictions. This might look like allowing people to choose not to shake hands or hug and refraining from any judgement of those choices. It might look like congregants continuing to bring their own elements for communion or using prepackaged communion indefinitely. These are not fear-based decisions, but choices made out of an abundance of caution for ourselves and our beloved church families.
To those still struggling with decisions about worship attendance in person and going about in public, I invite you to ponder the words of James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I pray that each of us finds our way in the “new normal” we’ve been pining for with wisdom and discernment, choosing caution but not fear, recalling that we come to worship the One who is the Prince of Peace and Healer of the nations.
The Rev. Janet Taylor
Braeside Church, St. Alberta, AB