Second Lockdown

This is part of the email I this evening sent to our regulars:

Dear all,

You'll be aware that a new lockdown has begun. After some discussion, the deacons and I will be complying with the the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations (2020). Exception 14 allows for public commemorations of remembrance, which the chapel will be marking, in the graveyard, at 10.45am this coming Sunday. However, there must be no mixing before, during or after. Section 6 (e) allows for travel to places of worship. 
You can read the regulations for yourself here:
The Pastor. 

Like many pastors, I have received criticism (’in love’, naturally) regarding compliance with the various regulations flowing from Whitehall. We closed the chapel from April to July, we then had half our meetings online, we sang more quietly, we closed again in November. For some, we sell out to the world; to others, for our singing, we are disobeying God’s appointed ruler. Except when preaching and leading, I wore a mask in church. It feels uncomfortable, looks demeaning and is, in my humble opinion, quite pointless. But I wore it because the state demands it. There are some at church who do not, their reasons are their own and it’s not for me to police London’s diktats. The signs were up, the example set, the people did as they saw fit.

Where the state’s rules contradict the Bible’s, we obey God rather than man. Where there is no contradiction, we obey the state, even when the state is wrong. So if the state demanded we erect gold Buddha statues in our churches, we ignore that rule, and face the consequences. Where the state demands we install bright red fire extinguishers, we obey. Now there are grey areas, where principles of the Bible are invoked. For example, what if the state required us all to display a Union Flag in our place of worship? I would object as a flag distracts from Christ, but such things are not openly flouting a scriptural prohibition, and might be justified as honouring the state, as many US churches seemed wont to do. 

Here’s an interesting example. If I am driving and the lights turn red, am I free to drive through them if I am sure there is no car coming the other way? No. The stop is a waste of fuel and time, but the law must be obeyed. Okay, but what if I am driving to church and running late. As pastor, I am serving God and doing His work. May I ignore the red light then? Still no. It delays the Lord’s work, but scripture gives me no further mandate to break the law.

The demand to wear a mask may be pointless and demeaning. The rule against gathering in groups after worship is petty and painful. The advice against singing has little basis in fact. The second closure of the churches is a constitutionally and morally questionable thing to do. We have obeyed, but I did consider doing otherwise. I am a little annoyed that I may sit as a magistrate tomorrow morning in a courthouse, and spend Monday teaching 30 teenagers in a classroom, but I may not go to a larger building and worship God among 40.

For now, I obey Caesar.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Image by inkflo from Pixabay