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Returning to Two Services And the Fifth Commandment

With great appreciation to [name removed] and those willing to help her sanitize the church after the morning service, we believe we are now prepared to recommence our evening services starting this coming Lord’s Day.

Things have not returned to normal as yet. News of positive tests for Covid-19 haven’t gone away, and as imperfect as some of our measures may be, the Session believes it is wise to continue exercising caution going forward. We appreciate your help in this; complying with the ushers, keeping your fellowship outside the building, staying home if you are in the vulnerable category, etc. As a reminder, if you’re feeling unwell, or you know you’ve been exposed to someone that has tested positive for Covid-19, we want you to take the advised precautions and avoid attending public worship.

Having said that, I’m thankful to return to two services this Lord’s Day. Some of our brethren across this nation and beyond are not so blessed to do so without threat of action being taken against them. Our brethren in Ulster have just begun drive-in services. I was speaking to one of our ministers over there this past week and he admitted,

“Perhaps we have given our freedom away rather than it having been taken away.”

I responded,

“The precedents set could last longer than the pandemic. Whatever government is permitted to regulate it rarely steps back from that role.”

It is true, but I’m thankful that it has been to a lesser degree here than in other places.

We all need to take note of what is going on in our land. The breaking of the fifth commandment is something I emphasize. Perhaps I’m in danger of overemphasizing it, but since it stands at the head of the second table of the law, it governs all our interactions with people. The government overreach in parts of the nation due to Covid-19 and the possibility of police being too aggressive on occasion, are fifth commandment issues. As the Larger Catechism words it,

“The sins of superiors are…commanding things unlawful…correcting them [inferiors] unduly…provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.”

On the flip-side, the anarchy we see on our streets across the nation shows a complete disregard of any legitimate authority. Again, it’s a fifth commandment matter.

“The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking, and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.”

Both sides reflect the same problem. A refusal to submit to Christ. How desperately then does our nation need the gospel.

Inevitably discussions will arise among people on some of these matters. I pray that God will give you wisdom. Destructive forces are discernible from the unborn to the elderly. We know who’s handiwork this is. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

May our Saviour pour out more of His Spirit on us all and help us seek the lost and bring them to a knowledge of Christ and the eternal life promised by Him.

Your friend and minister,

Armen


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