Why I’m Headed Back to Church

Kevin McCullough,

As the tedious activity (starts, pauses, reverses, starts up again) of attempting to get on with life in America’s northeast has begun, so has a new experience. The recent bombardment of e-mail surveys from various groups and organizations “cautiously seeking the chance to reopen.”

No one can blame them.

In the society that preceded COVID-19 we had become the most severely litigious society mankind has ever known. As we begin to re-emerge into life every eatery, establishment, and corporation are beside themselves with anxiety over potential liability.

That’s why those ridiculous plastic partitions are now up at checkout counters. It’s why you’re being refused service without a mask on and yelled at if you forget.

While at our pool yesterday, I forgot myself and accidentally shook hands with another member that my bride had befriended while I was out getting lunch.

While shaking her hand my brain actually started pinging like a fire alarm. I even apologized.

But the surveys: Do you wish your child to attend a half-day or rotate full days? If we resume full gym activity what size class are you comfortable with? If we return to full indoor activity at which percentage of seats do you feel comfortable being full? 25 percent? 60 percent? 100 percent?

These are only focused on one thing: organizations are desperately seeking some sort of wisdom on how to proceed. They are grasping at straws as to how to set up permissible interaction with people while coming off blameless for any passing of a potential contagion.

They won’t find it.

Organizations are going to have to fold up shop or get back to business, and in between, people are going to spread germs. Some will get sick and some will sadly die. More will die of flu and pneumonia than COVID-19. And in China, they are already reporting another breakout that may shut the world down by January.

Seems frustrating, infuriating, maddening.

Take also into account that in this election year the highest stakes are being laid. Consider that the party who is out of power is leveraging everything they believe necessary to regain it. Ponder that they will release felons, empty prisons, publicly allow and even encourage vandalism, theft, assault, rape and murder without so much as raising an eyebrow. Analyze the damage being done to young people of color as open warfare that had been muted or contained is now being allowed to reignite. Observe how little to no outcry is made by leftist politicians or media about any of that, yet the commutation of a single person convicted of a perjury trap, or the support of an ethnic food brand, receives endless coverage.

Seems hypocritical, dishonest, and dangerous.

In New York City it is unnecessary to wear a mask for a protest, and if you test positive for COVID-19 the contact tracers are disallowed from asking you about the protest, who you were with, or where you went.

Yet if your place of worship had, up until recently, desired to meet in similar ways, you could be reported and your personal freedom impaired or your pocketbook zapped for such a violation.

Seems inconsistent, corrupt, and abusive.

All of this has taken a toll on us humans. It feels heavy and discouraging. It drags our souls and our spirits into places not many of us have much familiarity with. Medical researchers have actually examined patients in at least one major study and found that “broken heart syndrome” (cardiomyopathy) is on the rise.

Seems discouraging, depressing and hopeless.

We’ve had our freedoms locked down.

We’ve had our character attacked.

We’ve had our homes and businesses robbed.

We’ve seen the lawless liberated.

We’ve seen the lawful assaulted.

We’ve felt the sadness of loss.

We’ve felt the disillusionment of manipulation.

We sense that something has changed.

We sense that things are out of control.

For these few reasons and a good many more I’m reminded of a scene from Hamilton.

Late in the musical Alexander and Eliza have lost their son to a duel. Alexander has also paid the price for marital infidelity and is a broken man, in a broken world, with a broken heart.

The lyric he sings describes how he “takes the children to church on Sunday, makes the sign of the cross at the door,” and how this “never used to happen before.”

As a family of faith who has converted our Sundays to digital worship, I have felt a disconnect—not from God who I believe is always accessible—but from those who come together to seek Him and ask Him to intervene in our lives, families, and nation collectively.

This weekend we meet together for the first time in 18 Sundays. We’ve rented a baseball open-air stadium and there will be social distancing observed, masks required in the indoor areas, and even bagged communion elements to receive on entry so that no one breathes on the items.

Those who feel vulnerable are encouraged to participate digitally, but I’m hoping that our multi-site family shows up in droves.

Because I personally feel that we urgently need to petition God to intervene in the frustrating, infuriating, maddening, hypocritical, dishonest, dangerous, inconsistent, corrupt, abusive, discouraging, depressing and hopeless times we face.

I also hold to one more crucial belief…

believe that prayer trumps protests!

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