Life is such a precious thing to us, but if we find something with such a high value that we must protect and fight for it even at the cost of our own life, it means that its value is more precious than life itself. On the contrary, it would be foolish to waste our life for unvaluable things without any good reason.
Looking back at the 2000 years of Christian history, the worship service was something they could exchange their life with. Even under the extreme persecutions, Christians worshiped God in the catacombs (underground tombs). Even then, gathering together for worship service made them vulnerable since it could expose their presence to the outside. Many were indeed arrested during service. The Christians in North Korea are still keeping their faith in such conditions. They live a life full of tears in order to offer worship service every week by any means. They know the price they need to pay for gathering to offer service, but they still congregate. For Christians, worship service has this much of a high value,
Nevertheless, Hanmaum church gave up in-person worship service for some time now. We made such a decision because we found another value that we need to preserve even at the cost of worship service. That value is the love and care for neighbors.
Extenuating circumstance are hindering us from attending in-person worship service. However, even in such circumstances, we should never forget the value of in-person worship services, Furthermore, we shouldn’t stop longing for the value of what we are giving up. Otherwise when the moment comes to regain what we have lost, we will miss it.
As time passes, I see that some have forgotten the value of worship service. It is saddening to see those who are not seeking service even if their situation allows them to. I see people who are giving up in-person worship service without hesitation, yearning, or pondering.
I see some with external and opinionated reasons backing down from attending the in-person service. “Am I taking another person’s place?” “Is it ok that I attend the service?” “Could I be inflicting harm on others?” Please let me suffer with such concerns and engage with me in an honest conversation.
The in-person service at Hanmaum church is being administered with the safety of the attendees as the top priority. It is much safer than our daily outdoor activities such as going grocery shopping. It is designed so that anyone can attend the service with a peace of mind. Even if your surrounding may have exposed you to the virus at some level, the safety protocol is designed so that you can still comfortably participate in the worship without being concerned and feeling guilty. It is also safe enough even for the elderlies who need to be extra cautious.
I think some may misconceive my intention. Our church is already stable. I am just expressing my sadness in writing as a shepherd.
Pastor Choi, JiWon