By Family policy alliance
As we continue to endure these challenging times in our state, nation, and world, my family and I are preparing for something we have never before experienced—Holy Week at home. No corporate church services. No Easter Sunday lunch. No Easter egg hunts. No personal interactions with close family and friends.
This week, millions of Christians across the world will forgo their typical Holy Week gatherings and traditions. Instead, many will tune in to online church services streamed to the “discomfort” of their homes. I say “discomfort” because if you feel like I feel, the corporate gathering of believers during Holy Week has always been a highlight of my year—a time for personal, affectionate interaction among the children of God as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And yet, this Holy Week will be different, because this Holy Week must be different.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the health and well-being of all Americans, President Trump and Governor Lujan Grisham have called upon us to help “slow the spread” by avoiding corporate gatherings. Nationally, President Trump has recommended that all Americans avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Governor Lujan Grisham has banned all gatherings of more than 5 people in a single room, connected or outdoor space, where people are within 6 feet of one another.
Though churches and other places of worship are exempt from the Governor’s ban, earlier this week, she asked that all churches avoid holding in-person Easter services during Holy Week. This prompted calls from pastors and others wondering whether or not I believe churches should follow the government’s directives. My personal recommendation has been, yes, we should.
As a pastor myself, I understand the pressures we face and the gravity of any decision to suspend our corporate worship services. I also understand the concerns about relinquishing too much control to the state. During these unprecedented times, however, I believe the COVID-19 guidelines are consistent with the God-given role of government to restrain evil and promote the common good (Romans 13:3-4); and as the Church, we too should follow them (Romans 13:1, 5).
As the President has stated, we all have a common “invisible enemy” in this virus, and if we work together, we can save lives and defeat this evil. This Easter season, I encourage you to observe Holy Week at home (see free resources list below); to practice social distancing; and to continue to minister to those in need. The quicker this pandemic diffuses, the quicker we can return to corporate worship and personal gatherings with those we love.
And remember—though these guidelines may prevent our physical communion with one another, they cannot prevent our spiritual communion with God. In other words, we can continue to be spiritually faithful Christians while serving as socially responsible citizens.
Let this be a moment in history that is celebrated by future generations—a moment when the Church shined bright; when the state governed well; and when church and state came together to persevere and overcome.