Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Pastor's Corner - May 22nd, 2020

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A Congregation of the United Church of God

Pastor's Corner - May 22nd, 2020

Greetings brethren,

I thought I would provide a quick update as to where things stand with regards to reopen, particularly in light of the Presidents comments today. 

Many of you likely saw the President’s comments that “places of worship” were to be deemed as “essential”, and should be reopened immediately. I appreciate his statement, and wholeheartedly agree that Churches are essential. However, his statement is unenforceable. He does not have the authority to override the decisions of the Governors of the states, which operate as independent entities within the Republic by and large. 

According to the Brookings Institute, (which is a little left of center in their bias)

“The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, included in the original Bill of Rights, states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” As University of Texas law professor Bobby Chesney has recently reminded us, the states are independent entities within our system of federalism, not mere subordinate jurisdictions of the national government. In areas reserved to the states, he says, the federal government “cannot coerce the states into taking actions to suit federal policy preference.”

A little further down the article by the Brookings Institute. 

“If Trump thinks he can move to center stage by ending the crisis before the science says he should, he will find it difficult to do so. No federal statute gives the president the authority to override state decisions. Nor does he possess this inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution. Nor do any other provisions of the Constitution (such as the interstate commerce clause) confer this power on him. If governors choose to disregard his call to reopen their states, their decisions will be final, and the President Trump will have to live with them.”

The unfortunate reality is the decisions and the timeline as to when reopen will occur for us - falls directly on the decisions that are made by Governor Brown. It is possible that this statement by the President, and the lawsuit brought this past week against the Governor may cause her to re-evaluate her position, but at the moment, we are still in wait and see mode locally.

Marion County just entered Phase 1 of reopen today (May 22nd) which means that we have 21 days before we can begin to consider moving to Phase 2. 

According to KGW.com, this means that the following are able to reopen with social distancing requirements in place.

  • Restaurants and bars for sit-down service: Requirements include 6 feet of social distancing; a limit of groups to parties of 10 or fewer; food and drink consumption must end by 10 p.m.; and workers are required to wear masks. See more details on the requirements
     
  • Barbers, salons and massage businesses: Requirements include social distancing; appointment-only; and a personal protective equipment and customer list. See more details on the requirements
     
  • Gyms and fitness centers: Requirements include a maximum gathering limit; social distancing; and sanitation. See more details on the requirements
     
  • In-person gatherings: Up to 25 people, no travel

According to the Phase 1 instructions, smaller gatherings that maintain social distancing are appropriate at this time. Less than 25, if you are in the Portland Metro area, restrictions are 10 people, not 25 - but if it doesn’t require you to travel from county to county, and is able to maintain social distancing, and in-person gathering requirements - then you are good to go. 

Please continue to use good hygiene practices, and show love and respect for others in the decisions you make. COVID-19 is still out in the community and cases are still being identified daily. Thankfully less and less each day, but there were 45 new cases reported today statewide. 

As we begin to return to some normalcy - there is a tendency to get excited and want to charge the gates to get things reopened right away. Sometimes, if we’re not careful - we can cause offense with the things that we say or do, or the things that we share online. We want to be careful attributing fear, weakness, or a lack of faith to those who are more cautious about going back to ‘normal’. People respond to things differently, and we need to respect where people are at with all of this. Additionally, as the President has now come out and declared churches to be essential, we need to be careful of how we portray the Governor on social media if she chooses to push back against the presidents overreach of authority. 

I would like to remind everyone again of the words of Titus 3:1-8 Titus 3:1-8 [1] Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, [2] To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness to all men. [3] For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. [4] But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, [5] Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [6] Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; [7] That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [8] This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that you affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
American King James Version×


Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

We have not been prohibited from having Church services. We are still free to meet online - no one has prevented that. We have been asked to stop meeting in person to slow down/stop the spread of a virus. This is not the same thing as having our freedom of religion stripped from us. That time will come - and when it does come, we will do all that we can to continue to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of the Kingdom of God to this world - despite the arrests and the assaults, but that is not what we are experiencing now and to equate it is as such is a false equivalence. 

This is a difficult situation, and it is challenging, but it is not what we see described during the Great Tribulation. Not yet. We are continuing to monitor and keep track of what is available/allowed, and our timelines. Look for an email survey in the next week or two that gauges your personal feelings on reopening/restrictions, I would appreciate very much your prompt response when that comes out. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Sabbath and Memorial Day weekend! 

Cheers,
Ben