When riding the London Underground for the first time, I smiled when hearing this announcement coming over the intercom at each station: “Mind the gap, please, mind the gap.” It struck my American ears as a very genteel way to remind riders to watch their step when exiting the train. No matter how you phrase it, of course, the reminder is appropriate. Gaps can be tricky.
More broadly, times of transition in life require special care. We know from experience that a sudden change in employment, health, family, etc. can throw off our equilibrium. We may feel threatened by loss and tempted to indulge in self-pity or other ungodly attitudes. Yet despite these difficulties, God works in the gaps. He teaches us to rely on his forgiving grace (for ourselves and others) and to trust in his control.
Grace Church is about to step into a challenging transition – reopening during a pandemic. As we move forward, we can see some aspects of our situation more clearly than others. We know COVID-19 is highly contagious and deadly to some. We know that the virus is still around. We know that loving our neighbor means taking steps to prevent infection from spreading via our church gatherings. Questions nevertheless remain about how the virus spreads and what safety practices are needful. We must pray for God’s help in this gap, as the remaining uncertainty makes decisions more challenging. He will help us if we trust him.
The most important decision we will make, however, is the decision to love each other. No doubt members will have different opinions about reopening. Some will want quick reopening consistent with Christian courage. Others will want to be cautious out of love for neighbor and concern for human life. Regarding our own personal convictions, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind,” Rom. 14:5. When it comes to getting along with others, though, “let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding,” Rom. 14:19.
May the Lord enable us to make good decisions about reopening. But even more, may he cause us to come through this season having grown in faith and in showing the love of Christ to each other. In that case, we will have responded well.
Warmly in Christ,
Pastor Dan Clifford