A quick Google search using the search phrase, “Christmas services Anchorage 2020” yields many choices. Many services show as live services which is worrying. Since early on during the Covid pandemic, churches have demonstrated live services often become super spreader events. Unfortunately, many have died as a result. During His ministry, Jesus, responding to a question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”, stated, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’ 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
I applaud those local churches who are streaming their services this Christmas, providing a safe haven for the celebration of Christmas. These are not times to be complacent. In a December 20, 2020 New Yorker article Michael Luo writes, “Many churches, particularly conservative ones, fought lockdown orders and rebuffed public-health warnings about large indoor gatherings. The virus has swept through houses of worship across the country. In the end, the lasting image of the Church in the pandemic may very well be that of an unmasked choir at First Baptist Church, in Dallas, led by the pastor Robert Jeffress, a staunch Trump supporter, singing in front of Vice-President Mike Pence at a “Freedom Sunday” service, as the county where the church is located reported a record high for covid-19 cases.”
In his most recent book, God and the Pandemic, noted theologian N.T. Wright, urges Christians to consider lament as an appropriate response to the pandemic.
He succinctly writes, “I have urged that we should embrace lament as the vital initial Christian response to this pandemic. Roughly one-third of the Psalms are lamenting that things are not as they should be. The words they use are words of complaint: of question, sorrow, anger and frustration and, often enough, bitterness.
They are all part of the prayer-book of Jesus himself, and the New Testament draws freely on them to express not only our own laments but the way of Jesus too. The Lord’s Prayer is our ‘norm’. Are we looking for sudden signs of the End? No: we pray every day, ‘Thy Kingdom Come on earth as in heaven’, and we know that prayer will be answered because of what we know about Jesus. Are we looking for fresh, sudden calls to repent? No: we pray every day, ‘Forgive us our Trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ We know that prayer will be answered, because of what we know about Jesus. Are we then looking for fresh reasons to leave our comfortable lifestyles and tell our neighbours the good news? Well, shame on us if it takes a pandemic to get us to that point. Why wasn’t Jesus’ command enough? ‘As the father sent me, so I’m sending you’; ‘Go and make all nations into disciples’. God and the Pandemic (p. 52). Zondervan.
I wish each of my readers wonderful days of celebration in honor of the Advent’s wonderful event, the coming of the King.