Church and COVID

With the new ecclesiastical year now well underway we find ourselves at the feast of the Universal Exultation of the Holy Cross. Our church, like most, is offering services for the faithful to join and participate every Sunday.

The process consists of calling ahead, and reserving your spot. Verifying that you have not come in contact with anybody showing signs of COVID, and wearing a mask for the duration of the service. And while these measures may seem tedious, overbearing, challenging among other things, they have served the purpose of reminders.

The need to place reservations and verify recent contacts brings about a planning ahead, the desire with purpose to approach the Church, and Christ himself. There is already a process of looking ahead and preparing in place.

The masks and historical contact tracing brings about an awareness, it brings about a realization of our vulnerability, how quickly and easily we may fall victims to sickness, and if by chance we have exposed ourselves or put others at risk. The new physical practices are bringing about pauses, and ideally spiritual realizations that perhaps have or had slipped away from our conscience.

We have always been vulnerable to illness, the archetypal example of illness is Sin itself, which comes into the world through the ploys of the devil, and deceives humanity into turning its back on God. And brings Adam and Eve to the point of hiding from and talking about God instead of to God. Of fearing Him instead of Trusting Him, of forgetting Him instead of knowing Him.

Illness and Sin it seems, one way or another seem to find ways to push us into losing our personhood, in hiding in the fullness of our identity which is an extension of the love of God, and a physical manifestation of His very image and likeness. Humanity it seems has become so ill, that it must restrain itself from any and all interactions of one person with another face to face, without barriers. A history of places and people visited must be maintained for our own personal well-being and that of our loved ones and those we have come into contact with. If by chance we have gotten ill, we must be able to contact trace for the physical wellbeing of our friends, families, and selves.

Dare I ask, when the last time we stopped for a minute and came up with a recent inventory of all our interactions with people known and unknown and if it brought us closer to Christ, if in addition those we interact with are brought to Christ or turned off by our poor example refuse to come into His home and shun His very presence. Have we infected ourselves with or exposed ourselves to sin and have we taken the necessary steps to purify ourselves, body, mind, and soul? Or do we continue to jeopardize our neighbors by feigning ignorance of our sickness? As we begin to approach now the Divine Services have we taken good account of ourselves, and do we follow the directions of those entrusted with our care? Do we do so for our sake, for goodness sake, or Christ’s sake? Can we bear the presumed injustices for the time being patiently until the great and glorious second coming of Christ, where all will be set as it should? Do we have an honest account of our relationship with Him and do we seek his help and beg for His mercy? Have we begun to truly emulate Him, or do we simply deceive ourselves into thinking we are? Perhaps a spiritual father would do us good in our journey to Christ and His Kingdom.

And finally through COVID there seems to be a great fear over receiving communion and depending on everyone personal struggles we ultimately may have varying opinions. There seems to be a fear of one’s well-being and safety over the dispensation of Holy Eucharist; the common cup and spoon have brought about a true “fear of God”. And yet for two thousand years “with the fear of God, with faith and with love” we have been instructed to draw near.

The fear should be over our spiritual preparation and repentance, the purity of our soul and the effort put forth into restoring Christ’s image and likeness through His Grace and Sacraments in our own being. The state of our citizenship in paradise and our passport for that journey should be at the forefront of our minds. Instead we worry about losing our life because of Christ as opposed to losing our life for Him, or better yet offering it to Him. May God bless you and keep you.

+ Rev Ioannis (Yanni) Michaelidis, Assistant Pastor

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