So the Coronavirus legislation allows ‘commemorative events celebrating the life of someone who has died’ to take place in church buildings. Does this include the Eucharist? Or does the Resurrection rule it out? (Bishop of Burnley on Twitter 3rd November 2020)
A few years ago, a friend of mine attended a seminar on mission and was disappointed, and perhaps a little critical, at the response of a fellow attendee who answered the challenge to increase outreach with a commitment to opening his church building more often.
Around the same time another friend, on moving to London, expressed dismay at the amount of church buildings he found locked during the week. He wondered how the Church could expect to reach people if church buildings were not kept open to the public.
These two different approaches are reflected in various responses to the open letter, sent to the government on 3rd Nov, in which leading clerics asked to be allowed to keep church buildings open for public Christian worship during the second lockdown. Some argue that such worship is indeed essential while others recoil from any suggestion that the church should claim privilege or ask for special favours.
We are the Body of Christ but within this body can be found a range of different views on how the church should operate. This is nothing new, such differences of opinion were frequent in the early church. Paul’s advice to the Corinthian church seems to suggest that as long as we agree to the basic tenets of the faith, how we work out that faith is a matter of personal conscience (1 Cor 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts). Therefore we can respect the opinion of others while staying true to our own values and beliefs.
Paul also tells the Corinthians So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God(1 Cor 10:31).
So whether we fight to keep our buildings open for public worship or whether we look to expand our online presence, as long as we do it for the glory of God we should all be fine.
Written by Catherine Beaumont