LEWISVILLE, TX: Holy Week is a traditional worldwide Christian celebration. It falls at the time of year when spirits are lifted by the promise of the beauty and warmth of spring. Flowers blooming, grass and trees miraculously turning to a brilliant green remind us we no longer must stay hunkered down in our homes huddled around fireplaces or sleeping beneath the warm blankets quilted by grandmother.
With new bonnets sitting at atop bright faces and new clothes for family members, churches reach yearly highs in the number of Sunday worshippers. The message throughout the week focusing on remembering the greatest event in human history—the miracle of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection.
Even as we are preoccupied with the virus, Christ has still risen, his atonement still valid—all is good.
Keeping the blessings of Holy Week
Perhaps, we all too often took the blessings of the Holy Week for granted. That is until the deadly Covid19 virus struck. Everything has changed. People self-quarantine in their own homes, workplaces shut down, schools and universities empty. We have travel bans imposed, sports seasons postponed, and worship centers asked to cancel services.
This is a special burden for churchgoers who believe the message of Easter is essential to the validity of their faith.
How then shall we celebrate Holy Week in this era of coronavirus days?
Should Christians refuse to close their doors in defiance of public warnings or governmental directives? It appears some churches believe Christians should be so committed to their Savior that to abandon their church services would be tantamount to denying the Savior.
“Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT)
I would be one who would fight to the end to keep the right to worship in a local church. And, of course, many, many would stand with me, Catholics and Protestants alike. But this is not a government directive to persecute Christians. It is a national public health issue.
The traditional Christian view is that Christians have been given a command to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We do not organize as medieval crusaders to conquer with the sword. We believe in the freedom of choice—no forced baptisms or confessions.
Those churches keeping their doors open expose both believers and unbelievers to the deadly virus.
Even with limited access to market places, Christians go into grocery stores, pharmacies, and pickup orders at restaurants where they come into contact with folks from other belief systems or even the non-believers.
By refusing to close their doors to worship services, it is, in effect, infringing on the rights of others. A very selfish and, perhaps, an unchristian attitude and practice.
Rather than risk the spread of this unprecedented contagious and dangerous virus, let’s take the opportunity to enjoy a period of unusual modern national unity. Obey the recommendations for fighting the virus and enjoy social distasting. One church sign on the front lawn gets it,
“SERVICES CANCELLED GOD MAKING HOUSE CALLS.”
We all find ourselves in a unique situation never before experienced.
Quarantine offers a special opportunity to enjoy Holy Week in a new way. Search the internet for inspiring messages, professional gospel performers or purchase motivational books to share with the family. Or, perhaps, take the time to enjoy reading Scripture around the table or have devotions prior to a good night’s sleep.
To see isolation as just what we need to enjoy a quiet peaceful life. We often complain about the busyness of life—well for many that is no longer an excuse.
It’s time to put real wings on one’s standard of faith. It’s time to help.
All across America medical personnel are coming out of retirement to volunteer, taking no thought of their own safety. Perhaps, we are not able to help in this way; but we can help in our own way to meet this national emergency. God most assuredly wants that from us.
My eighty-one years has put me in the high-risk category. I stay at home as instructed and spend my days writing my new novel: St Paul, The Man Who Saved Liberty, A Tale of Passion. I love my self-imposed quarantine and I don’t have cabin fever. It gives me time to write, think and pray.
I believe prayer is one of the most effective tools in a Christian’s toolbox.
These troubled times call for prayer.
The need is extensive: for the men and women on the so-called front lines in the war on COVID-19, our President and Vice President, military, political leaders, families concerned about financial matters and jobs and, of course, those in high-risk categories.
I would be extremely egotistical if I believe my prayer is going to be more effective than the millions of prayer warriors praying for an end of the pandemic. But God doesn’t place that responsibility on me. He simply has given me the command to pray and He will be responsible to accomplish His plan.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalians 5:16-18)
Yet if we are all alone and have a need, God will answer without multitudes praying for that need. His purpose for our prayers is clear. Paul referring to his troubles in Asia writes,
“And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” (2 Corinthians 1:10-12)
St. Paul’s point is that if many are praying when answers come there will be many thankful prayer warriors.
My prayer list has grown since the self-quarantine. I have concentrated on praying for my generation who are high risk. Many feel a sense of fear, well-founded fear as many are dying. But God is not the God of fear but the God of power, love, and self-discipline.
God sustains us in the midst of a crisis and when He sees us through, we will look back and see His handiwork was busy forming us, strengthening us, and making heroes out of common ordinary men and women.
The light at the end of the tunnel may well be national unity—one nation under God.
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