Some years ago, you may remember bumper stickers were the thing. You don’t see them so much anymore, which I have found to be somewhat gratifying, especially when it comes to Christian-themed bumper stickers. I remember seeing some doozies in my time. “Jesus is coming; look busy.” “Warning: In Case of Rapture This Car Will Be Unmanned.” And my personal favorite. “Honk If You Love Jesus,” along with its more unsettling addendum: “Text if you want to see him.”
The word “confer” is a grammatically rich one, depending on whether there is an object involved with it. As you English majors will recall, used transitively (with an object) the word suggests the bestowing of an honor on someone, as in, “The school conferred upon her an honorary degree.” But when used intransitively (without an object), it means to come together for a discussion or a deliberation.
Of the many factors that each of us has had to weigh in making decisions during this season of COVID, one factor that we would never have imagined being as pronounced as it has been over these last several months is the element of risk. It’s not that we hadn’t been weighing risks in our decisions prior to COVID, it’s just that it seems that so much more is at stake now, because we’re talking about our health. And so, before we do anything or go anywhere, we ask ourselves the question, “Is it worth the risk?” If so, then we move forward. But if not, then we stay put.
One of the lessons I’ve gleaned since joining the Facebook world is that people probably don’t have a lot of time to park on one post. It seems to me that the platform is designed to allow people to scroll through their timeline and take a peek on what other people are doing and saying. If something grabs your attention, then you can give it more time. If it doesn’t, you can move on to something that does.
This Sunday, July 12, marks the third phase of our four-phased plan for resuming in-person gatherings at MBBC, one in which we will add Sunday Morning Bible Study (SMBS) opportunities. Again, as we move into this phase, we do so responsibly, gradually, and with an openness to adjusting our plans as necessary. Fortunately, we have not had any hiccups to this point in the process of implementing our plan, in large measure because of how our attendees have followed the guidelines we put in place to safeguard everyone. We will continue to follow those guidelines, even more strictly now that our gatherings will involve spaces that put us a bit closer to one another, though not to a level that we violate the need to keep practicing physical distancing.
This weekend will see the usual trappings of Fourth of July celebrations. There will be fireworks and cookouts, family gatherings and backyard activities. But this year won’t see some things that we’ve grown accustomed to on previous Independence Day holidays. There won’t be an entire day’s worth of baseball game in stadiums across the land. There also won’t be the Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, at least not with a live audience. A lot of our celebrations have been condensed in response to the current pandemic. So, how free are we?
Of all the guidelines we’ve been living under over these last three months as we’ve been doing our best to navigate this COVID-19 crisis, the one that I’ve found to be the most difficult to practice is making sure that I don’t touch any surfaces unnecessarily. In my mind, there’s a reason that God gave us two hands. He did so in order that we could touch stuff and surfaces and people. But now we are being told that none of that is in our best interest and we should do all we can to refrain from touching anything we don’t have to touch.