When it comes to lifting current restrictions, we want to do so in a way that discerns the many layers involved; relational, social, medical, spiritual, emotional, and even political. We strive to embody three characteristics in our approach:
- We strive for love
- We strive for unity
- We strive wisdom
STRIVING FOR LOVE
At times of disruption and chaos, Christians everywhere play a massive role in shaping culture in our churches and in our communities. To paraphrase Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making and partner for theology and culture at Praxis Journal— a Christian’s responsibility is to “…speak, live, and make decisions in such a way that move towards shalom, flourishing for everyone in our sphere of influence, especially the vulnerable.”
Because we believe that it is only Jesus who ultimately transforms and brings shalom, Christians are uniquely set apart at this extraordinary moment to shape culture in the United States more now than in a generation, maybe ever.
The church must not be outpaced in presenting a posture of love, service, solidarity, and concern for the welfare of others—especially the most vulnerable.
Holy Cross seeks to be above reproach when it comes to our concern for our neighbor and for one another. We should be going out of our way to promote the welfare of others. In this way we maintain a conduct among outsiders that is honorable, so that all may see our good deeds (1 Peter 2:12).
We also recognize that this current pestilence gives a new face to the vulnerable. We are not simply dealing with epidemiology, but with economics and politics as well. In our leading and planning we must also consider those who have become profoundly aware of the effects of a suffering economy, business loss, or diminished work hours. Many who previously enjoyed certain economic securities are in the midst of acute inhospitable conditions. Without question, many people are feeling the pain of the virus and the cascading effects of social distancing. We must meet this concern with compassion, courage, and vision.
The church must be the ultimate example when it comes to how we exercise our rights and responsibilities.
We desire to steward our time, resources, privileges, and permissions not primarily for our own indulgence but for the service of others. Our Lord shows us that the values of his Kingdom are not the same values in this world. The Christian life is about dying to self not claiming what belongs to us. Christians have a unique time to ask the question ‘what is beneficial?’ Rather than ‘what is permitted?’ We are permitted to gather, according to federal guidance, But ‘can’ doesn’t always mean ‘should’.
We ought to lead not out of fear or merely out of desire to appear courteous — but chiefly because no other group of people on earth have been secured with the blood of Christ, knit together solely by His grace, and providentially formed by God to be a blessing to others.
STRIVING FOR UNITY
I include this section because I know that we will not all agree in the way we move forward. Some of you will want to move slower—some will want to move much quicker. Some will want to adhere to the letter of the law while missing the spirit of it—others might be tempted to brush off any guidance whatsoever. But that does not mean we cannot be unified.
What is Christian unity and how is it important for us now? The Bible describes unity as both a condition and a discipline. It is something static and the result of our adoption into Christ and also something that can be strengthened or weakened among Christians (by faith or disobedience, respectively). The Apostle Paul demonstrates this when he says,
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:1-5).
There are all kinds of divisions among God’s people: race, social status, national background, personal differences and perspectives, etc. Unity does not mean sameness. Knowing that we are all one in Christ and in the same family of God should motivate us to honor and love one another.
In whatever sequence of decision we make as a church, I hope that above all things we maintain the posture and practice of humility, patience, and eagerness to maintain peace. We ought to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
STRIVING FOR WISDOM
Uniquely in our lifetimes, every single person we will interact with in the coming days is experiencing vulnerability like never before. We strive to take steps to communicate a well-thought plan that acts boldly to love our neighbor and glorify God. We seek wisdom in this time.
Wisdom requires that we avoid an aversion to input from outsiders, the medical community, and local and federal officials.
This guidance is largely consistent with the readily available medical and public health information about COVID-19. It takes into account the best public information on the matter and might even change or be adjusted on a regular basis, as what we know continues to evolve.
With that said, we want to be more cautious about how and when we reopen and plan to only advance through our phases as Arizona meets the Governor's benchmarks and CDC recommendations.