by: Amy Janssen
Gethsemane Family and Friends,
Our Lord Jesus repeatedly taught his disciples that we are to serve our neighbor, put others ahead of ourselves, and sacrifice for the sake of friend and foe alike. As followers of Jesus, we must continue to push back against a world that tells us that people are only responsible for themselves. We must be mindful of how our choices will benefit or harm our neighbor, not just ourselves. We are called by God use our freedom not for selfish gain or comfort, but for the betterment of the whole world, especially our most vulnerable neighbors.
Keeping this in mind, I am aware that even though a large portion of our local population is vaccinated, the pandemic is not yet in the rear-view mirror. St. Louis county is currently in the “substantial” category for community transmission – meaning our county has 50 to 100 cases per 100,000, or a COVID testing positivity rate between 8% and 10%. This means that there are still people getting sick or worse, and the new virus variants are more contagious and dangerous. We must continue to show love and care for all people by taking measures to protect one another.
As we encourage families and children to join us in worship and Sunday school this fall, one simple way that I plan to show love for my neighbor is by wearing a mask when I cannot social distance or when children are present. I care about the health and safety of all of God’s children, young and old(er), so I will be wearing a mask during all large group indoor events, including worship, until our community transmission category goes down to moderate or low, and I encourage you to do so too, whether or not you are vaccinated.
Because our local school district is not requiring but only recommending masks, our church council is also recommending but not requiring masks at indoor gatherings. If the schools change their recommendation, we will follow suit. Taking this easy safety measure will not only prevent the transmission of COVID to children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, but also show care and hospitality to those who are otherwise medically fragile. In addition, cold and flu season will be upon us before we know it. These common illnesses can also be life-threatening for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems (and I have to admit, I think it was because so many people were wearing masks that I didn’t get even ONE cold last winter!), so I will also be wearing a mask when I visit with our members and friends who are homebound and living in nursing homes.
Jesus calls us to care for “the least of these” and this is my way of showing that care.
I hope you will join me.
Your co-worker in Christ,