The lifting of all the remaining coronavirus restrictions on places of worship in England is to be welcomed. But let us also remember our fellow believers in other parts of the UK, where the situation is – at the time of going to press – different.
Bear in mind, although the legal restrictions may be lifted, the government may yet publish further guidance for churches. Guidance is not law, but it may yet create confusion and concern among churches. And another wave of the virus may lead to further legal restrictions later in the year. We are not out of this yet.
Furthermore, coming out of the lockdown measures has just as much potential to cause division between Christians and churches as the introduction of the measures last year. There will be those who want to return to normal with all haste. Others will want to move slowly and cautiously.
Much will depend on the circumstances faced in each situation. Some churches have been completely untouched by the virus – no one has died, or been hospitalised, or even tested positive. But in other churches, the impact of the virus has been much more severe. Some churches have a high ratio of vulnerable people, others less so. And then there are just the natural differences of temperaments between believers: some personalities are more fearful than others.
It will be a tough time for church elders. Most churches have a variety of strongly-held views and opinions about the best way of emerging out of lockdown. But the loudest voices shouldn’t try to veto everyone else. Remember, it is your church elders – not you – who must one day give an account to the Lord for how they have watched over your souls. So, in the words of Hebrews 13:17, ‘Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.’