It’s been a month since our premier Gladys Berejiklian first publicly recommended that people in NSW wear face masks in areas where social distancing can be hard to maintain – particularly on public transport, supermarkets and while attending places of worship. Her statement was addressed in a recent letter by Archbishop Davies, encouraging church leaders not to ignore this recommendation and to encourage wearing masks in church.
The logic behind this encouragement is clear: the risk of transmission is much higher in indoor settings, with large groups of people who know each other, are more comfortable with each other, and therefore perhaps less likely to maintain an adequate social distance. Churches have been linked to several outbreaks, and meeting together safely is a key priority.
We can make a real difference to our congregations and those around us
After a week of being surrounded by people choosing to wear masks at local cafes, on the bus to work and at the shops, it is a shock if I don't see people at church doing the same. In fact, we should be aiming to be 100 per cent masked.
“Jesus calls us to live lives which display God’s radical love”
Because it’s true, we are not legally required (right now) to wear a mask to church. Nobody at our church services is doing anything wrong.
Yet, Jesus calls us to live lives which display God’s radical love. In Mark 7, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for focusing on completing what is required of them and searching for loopholes to avoid loving their family and community. He accuses them of being hypocrites, setting aside the word of God in favour of their own traditions.
What does not wearing a mask say to others?
The thing is, wearing a mask is an act of love. There is no question that it feels awkward and that it’s much harder to talk. But it’s a choice to keep the people around us safe. It stops them from being exposed to our germs.
Does your Church foyer look like this? With people sitting down, possibly wearing masks, with a safe distance between them. If yes - we want to say THANK YOU. Thank you for being responsible. Thank you for choosing some brief discomfort, for the sake of our wider community. Keep it up. . . . . . . . . . . . . #covid19 #corona#praisesong #praisefest #praisethelord #anglicanhighschool #churchservices #churchservice #churchsydney #churchinsydney #sydneychurches #churchesofsydney #westernsydneychurch #sydneynewlifechurch #anglicanchurchplant #anglicanchurchwomen #anglicanchurchsydney #anglicanchurch��
Wearing a mask is not something we are required to do, but it’s an opportunity to display the radical, other-person centred love which Jesus displays to us. It’s an opportunity to help vulnerable members of our community feel safe to come to church. It’s an opportunity to ensure newcomers know they will be just as safe at church as anywhere else. And it could be an opportunity to keep churches open and able to meet in person.
So my question is: are we missing an opportunity to show our communities the love of God?