Neighborliness, Even Now
The Table began with the idea that Christian faith is about movement along with four missional values:
From greed toward generosity
From violence toward peacemaking
From isolation toward neighborliness
From fear toward faith.
All four of these paths of transformation are being complicated during the time of COVID 19, but the most ‘on the nose’ challenge has to be the idea that as people of faith, we’re trying to be less isolated and more neighborly.
Nothing challenges neighborliness like the need to avoid people, right?
The ethos of our church has always been that, in the internet age, when we’re all bombarded with information, toxic politics, and sleep-stealing digital media, we ought to invest more in experiences like the ones Jesus had with his disciples – hanging out together and having long conversations. Helping people who are hungry and sick. And of course, breaking bread together.
We still believe that these are indispensable features of a good life, but the current crisis has required that we give them up, or at less exchange them for less-satisfying online facsimiles.
This has been disappointing, and at times profoundly sad, because we’ve really come to grips with just how much is lost when we can’t hug, or pass around the new baby, and hand one another a piece of Jesus bread.
And, because this is so hard, it’s very important for us to remember why we’ve made the choice to forgo gathering in person, especially now, as some parts of our society are opening up to greater traffic.
The first and main reason we’re not meeting in person is not a matter of government requirements, although we are committed to following government issued directives, and we’re very thankful for the dedication of experts and researchers who are helping us understand the crisis we’re living through.
The first and main reason we’re not meeting in person is actually our core commitment to neighborliness, the very thing that’s brought us together all along, up to this point.
We see now that neighborliness requires something different from us than in the past. Looking out for your neighbor used to be offering them a ride to church – now it is staying home. We know cases and deaths are still rising in our area, and that meeting for worship services will increase the risk that people contract this virus. Our services are small, but everyone contributes to or undermines the health of our community by making practical choices.
It’s just not neighborly to knowingly contribute to the spread of COVID 19, when meeting online will allow us to avoid this risk.
Holding tight to this core commitment, the Leadership Council has decided to have its decisions about when to reconvene in person at The Table be shaped by four factors:
· The recommendations of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ, our denomination.
· The expectations of CoWorkQC, the business in whose space we meet for our Sunday services.
· The governmental directives of Iowa and Illinois. Since our community is on the border of these two states, and our members reside in both, we have decided to follow whichever state’s requirements for mitigating health risks are more cautious and conservative.
· The federal government’s specific benchmark that 14 consecutive days of declining cases and deaths should increase confidence in a community’s effectiveness in managing the virus.
We’re not creating a rubric with checkboxes, but we are considering these sources of guidance. And when we get encouraging input from all four, our leadership team will make the decision on exactly when our next in-person gathering will be.
In the meantime, we’re trying to grow in generosity, peacemaking, neighborliness, and faith by adopting a lifestyle of gracious creativity. How can we care, help, embrace, learn from and lovingly challenge one another, without sharing physical space? This is the collaborative enterprise we’re engaged with, day after day.
Thank you for being part of this extended network and fellowship, and God bless you!
Please remember to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have prayer requests, if you need someone to talk to, or if you have material needs you’re struggling to meet in this scary. Peace to all,
Pastor Rob Leveridge
The Table is a Christian church in Davenport, Iowa, seeking transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship Sundays at 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport