We’re in about our fourth week of social distancing to slow the spread and “flatten the curve” of this pandemic. We’re all hoping it ends when the calendar turns to May or shortly thereafter, but we don’t really know. So far, 20,000 Americans have lost their lives and over 16 million have lost their jobs.
Now, the most important holiday in the Christian calendar, Easter, is here, Many churches are not hosting in-person service as they try to avoid community spread of COVID-19 while it is peaking in many areas across the country. Most churches are set to stream music and their Easter sermon online. Some creative ones are doing “drive-in church” complete with a outdoor stage. Some small congregations in rural areas may be able to responsibly meet, but few medium to large churches are gathering. One very large church in, COVID-19 hot spot, Louisiana is though:
— The Hill (@thehill) April 10, 2020
Attending church service is an essential part of the Christian life. While it isn’t the most important thing, it is a critical aspect of a Christian’s faith journey. Both the routine and tradition of attending are worthwhile and good. Easter service is a definitively good tradition, but even good traditions take a backseat to what is to the greatest calling for Christ-followers:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
While our traditions are good and worth honoring, they come second to this command. The prime antagonists to Jesus and his followers throughout the four gospels were the Pharisees. Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs” because they were “beautiful on the outside” with their observance of religious tradition, “but full of dead men’s bones,” because they lacked love for their neighbors.
One of the best examples of Jesus defying the Pharisees and putting loving people over religious tradition is when he healed on the Sabbath:
“She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” – Luke 13:11-17
Jesus was pouring out love for this person, but the religious leader was more concerned about religious traditions. In another confrontation with the Pharisees an eye witness to the scene, Peter, dictates the following quote to John Mark:
“You abandon God’s commandments just to keep men’s rituals, such as ceremonially washing utensils, cups, and other things.” – Mark 7:8
While it is important that Christians get back to attending church soon, in this season we must do what love requires of us. In this strange situation we’re in right now, it’ll probably be the only time that the most loving thing we can do for our neighbor on Easter morning is to stay home and watch Church online – while inviting others, including non-believers, to tune in – instead of gathering for the sake of “men’s rituals.”
If you don’t have a place to watch church online, please join us at 10:00AM ET here. If you do, share it. Now is about the easiest time for someone to tune in and learn about the greatest miracle in the world’s history.