As we all known Alberta has moved into Stage 3 of reopening and the City of Calgary voted to rescind the mask bylaw effective this past Monday night. Although I figured it would be pretty straight forward, this situation has proven more stressful than I anticipated in determining my own personal response. Although I shouldn’t be surprised, like all things Covid, removing mask mandates and “reopening” is not as straightforward as it might seem at first. Although many are eager and willing to toss the mask aside (including myself), there are still many who remain cautious and concerned about the spread of Covid (not to mention the entire under 12 population who is unvaccinated). The question I have been wrestling with, and would encourage each of you to consider is, “what does it mean to respond ‘Christianly’ in this situation?"
As a church we are leaving masking up for each family to decide, and the sanctuary will remain physically distanced in chair groupings. However here are some important points we need to keep in mind as we continue the process of returning to physical gatherings:
- Masking protects “the other.” We wear a mask to keep our germs from spreading to other people, not to protect ourselves. As such, wearing a mask (or not) is about you paying attention to other people.
- Physically distancing reduces the risk of transmission. If you want to reduce your own risk of “catching something” or “sharing something,” the greater the distance the lower the risk.
Like I said, I figured this would be pretty straightforward for me, but this last 3 days have proven more challenging than anticipated in terms of my behaviour. I want to shed the mask (which I did on Tuesday), but by doing so I am in some ways saying that I am not fully sensitive to those who still have concerns of virus transmission. As such, I have re-embraced the mask on Thursday in close conversations. Although people under 18 are very low risk of serious outcomes if infected by Covid-19, none of them live alone and many are young enough to have grandparents and great-grandparents (some of whom may live with them). Keeping a mask with us is good way to go, which enables us to pull it out and put it on when interacting with someone who may be high risk or more cautious, in order to demonstrate care.
With these two thoughts in mind, EVERYONE who attends a worship service or event at CHBC should feel comfortable. As such we need to:
- Be sensitive to other's personal comfort level - if you notice someone backing away from you when talking, respect that (especially if you have decided not to wear a mask).
- Hugging and physical embrace is awesome, but some are still cautious about being that close - let’s remain sensitive to this.
- No matter your opinion on masks, Covid, vaccines, etc., if you want to talk about them, be willing to listen thoughtfully to the opinion of others.
Let’s do all we can to be Christ-like in all things. We are called to care for the “least of these,” which is not always easy or comfortable. Cases of Covid and transmission rates continue to go down, let’s continue to pray for the end of Covid, and behave in ways that promote that.
Peace in Christ,