YouTube censored our worship service. My sermon from August 2, to be exact. They deleted our worship video from that Sunday because it “failed to meet our community standards” and was “spreading misinformation” regarding COVID-19.
What was my mortal sin in that service? In my sermon I dared to share an email from one of our members. This particular member, who I kept anonymous and will continue to do so, has over 20 years experience in microbiology, and they explained that because of what they know about how viruses work and masks don’t, they would not be wearing one. I then went on to share some of the data that supports wearing masks, and informed the congregation that we at SHLC would indeed be adhering to the governor’s recent mask order, despite the informed opinions that suggest otherwise. But apparently, my even mentioning a thought process not conforming to the will of the social media gods warrants censorship.
We appealed their decision, and we are contacting our congressman and senators about this infringement on our First Amendment rights by an entity that now controls the communication of over 1.3 billion (with a B) people. This has led me to consider what we do next, in terms of coronavirus precautions. The governor’s order is set to expire on September 28. The virus won’t be gone by then, but it is already showing signs of retreat. We’ve already seen – and recent studies confirm – that the virus is not nearly as lethal nor contagious as we feared back in March when the experts were projecting 2 million (with an M) deaths in the US alone. Positive strides have been made. That sounds great … unless you’re one of the vulnerable who fall victim to this disease. Or their family.
We cannot just jump back to mask-less, fellowship-full existence as long as the virus poses an imminent threat to our own brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not put a stumbling block in the way of our brother (Rom. 14:13), nor do use our freedom in Christ to indulge our own thoughts and desires, but through love our freedom serves others (Gal. 5:13).
That being said, what do we do come September 28th? What do we do in the Aftermask? We’ve already rolled out reopening plans for children’s and youth ministries, along with guidelines for our worship gatherings. But we know how long the best laid plans last when the data keeps changing.
Eventually, the masks will come off, and that’s a good thing, because it means our God-given immune systems are getting back to full time employment like they’ve always done.
Eventually, the social distance will close, and we’ll be able to sit together, talk together, eat together, worship together and live together in holy love as God designed the crown of His creation to do.
Eventually, the exponential increase in depression, domestic violence and suicide brought on by the masking distancing closing will subside (yes, shutting everything down and shutting everyone out kills people, too).
And eventually we will be able to have conversations and differences of opinion without censoring, attacking, unfriending or abandoning our relationships with one another. We are not the same people we were back in February, and we probably won’t be ever again. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8), and at no time did He stop being our Savior and Lord these last six months. He has made His power, His presence and His peace known even louder and deeper and in more creative ways for those who know the voice of their Shepherd, who hear Him even in the midst of the chaotic screeching of a society that has lost its way, if not its mind.
We follow Him. We follow Him alongside the same fellow lambs we loved before the mask. Now we will love them even more in the Aftermask.
Pastor Steve Kline
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.