Parades are important. We have all seen pictures and old news-reel footage of the end of World War II. Victory in Europe and Japan sent Americans into a frenzy of appreciation and celebration. After a long period of sacrifice, hope, and fear; Americans were free to kiss nurses and let the confetti fly. The certainty of a treaty and a date that ended the war, let people know they could relax. So far, neither COVID-19 nor the Taliban have accepted terms and set a time for the cessation of hostilities.
What does any of this have to do with North Second Street? For the most part, we have won the war against Covid-19. Victory is sure if not declared. However, skirmishes continue, we can’t let down our guard, and there are some still in harm’s way.
After a year of limited services and on-line assembly, today marks the resumption of our regular service schedule. Coronavirus cases are down. Vaccinations are up. But the disease is still around and just as deadly as it has been for the past 12-months. To put a bow on this metaphor; the war is over for most people but we still need to remember we have some soldiers deployed against a hostile foe.
I have thought for a long time that our fighting men and women deserved a parade for their sacrifices in the War on Terror. But there never seemed to be a time when we could declare victory and, “Bring the boys home.” We may bump along in a similar situation with coronavirus. Our services are back, but not everyone is fully vaccinated. What about masks, hugs, and passing the plate for the Lord’s supper?
[Editor’s note: Opinions vary widely on these issues. No judgment or prescription is intended.-JS]
Masks: Individual members will have to make their own choices. Scientists are unsure about vaccines and asymptomatic transmission. This is from Johns Hopkins University about coronavirus vaccines, “It is likely they reduce the risk of virus transmission but probably not completely in everyone.1” In my case, for example: I received my second vaccine dose Saturday. In two weeks, I should be 95% protected. Wendy is a week behind (Pfizer is quicker than Moderna). So, by April 15th, I will feel comfortable throwing away my mask. There are as many scenarios as there are saints in this congregation. Let’s show some grace to those still in Kabul.
Hugs: Everything from the prior paragraph flows down to this one. Ask first. After April 15th, “Look out!” I’m going to be huggin’ me some people.
The Lord’s Supper: For now, we will be using the combo cups and observing communion after the lesson of the day. Neither of these is optimal. We seem to be in a slight (hopefully) surge in cases in Tennessee2. My guess is we will see one last spike over the next month before antibodies and vaccines get us to some form of herd immunity. At that point we should be able to feel comfortable passing and taking the elements of the body and blood of our Lord. I can’t wait!
For most of us, the war is over and today marks a return to normalcy. Does it mean everyone will feel comfortable throwing off their masks and making every service? No. For some it will be an incremental draw-down of forces. If you are assembling with us in person today, we are thrilled to be with you!. If it’s a little early for you, we will be excited to see you soon! It has been a long year, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”-I Corinthians 15:57. Dangers may persist, but our success is guaranteed. It is good to be back.
2 Hospitalizations in Tennessee increased from 652 to 810 during March 13-26. https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html