By Snr Ps Beh Soo Yeong
Six months into the pandemic, the church premise remains closed and we have continued to conduct our worship services online. It was only in late July that the authorities have granted limited access for worship services that are restricted to 50 attendees, with mandatory masks and no singing.
After observing the reduction in community spread, our church started to have communion services in August, conducting four identical services every two weeks. We are thankful for these opportunities where we can start to meet physically, albeit in restricted ways. We are also allowing different ministry groups such as CARE Groups (CG) to use the church premises, subject to the safe distancing measures being practiced.
As a church, we have always emphasised community! But the social distancing measures that we are growing accustom to, for good reasons, must not become the norm absolutely. While we are mindful of practicing safe distancing, we should also be mindful to practice the “one another” of the Christian life, especially during such times. In the scriptures, the “one another” commands are aplenty. Some examples are:
Jhn 13.34-35 Wash one another’s feet, love one another
Rom 15.7 Accept one another
Rom 14.13 Stop passing judgment on one another
2 Cor 13.11 Encourage one another…
Gal 5.13 Serve one another humbly in love.
Eph 4.2 Be completely humble…bearing with one another in love.
Eph 4.32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,
Col 3.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another
Col 3.16 Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…
Heb 10.24 Spur one another on toward love and good deeds
1 Pe 4.9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
However, after these months of learning to be isolated and socially distanced, we may have to re-learn what it means to connect with one another in COVID-19-safe ways. I believe we can still practice the “one another” of scripture in creative and intentional ways.
Over the past months, I was pleasantly surprised and personally blessed when different ones texted, called, or invited me and Annie out for meals. They wanted to say hi, connect and show their love and concern. Many are still concern about Annie’s medical condition, and we are very thankful that she has mostly recovered from her stroke in February. I have experienced the love of the community, and I truly hope that this is not just because I am a pastor, but that everyone of us would also experience such love and concern, spurring us on towards love and good deeds.
At the previous CG leaders meeting, we encourage all our CGLs to intentionally connect with their members, and to encourage them to connect with one another. I am glad to say that many groups have taken the initiative to do so in small groups of not more than five persons. Some young adult groups meet in sub-groups of five, while zooming between these sub-groups. One group organised themselves for dinner in small groups of fives before zooming one another for CG meetings. Some CG leaders and members started hosting groups of five, whether for dinner, supper or coffee. One CG with young kids played games together via zoom. Some signed up for the communion services together and then adjourned for tea or coffee in groups of five to catch up. Others started to go for walks again in groups of five. There are many creative ways, but we have to be intentional.
Of course, if you are not in any CARE Group, there is no better time than now to join one. It is a key pillar of our community life, especially during such challenging times. I highly recommend that you get connected to a CG. Please contact anyone of the staff members, and we would be glad to help.
Perhaps, there are some among us who are waiting for the pandemic to be over before you meet with anyone to do something. Some are even still quite fearful, understandably so. May I encourage you to step out. Of course, adopt safe practices to minimise the risks. Let’s not wait for this pandemic to be over, but let’s seize this moment to reach out to one another!