An obligation to sacrificial love.
An obligation to sacrificial love.As Christians, we have always lifted up the importance of love and how that love calls us to sacrifice at times, meaning that it calls us to give up things for the betterment of others. I’d say that 99% of my preaching is preparing my listeners for that very act of sacrificial love when the opportunity will arise, and it inevitably will arise. It often presents itself in small, seemingly insignificant ways. This pandemic, however, just happens to be a huge in-your-face opportunity to practice what we have been preparing for. Because this is what we have been preparing for, we just never know the form it will take: masks, sheltering in place, isolation, loneliness, economic strife, etc. “Pastor, would God call us to these things?!” If it means life for others…Yes.
Other than articulating this in writing for parishioners who may not fully understand the hardline some churches have taken on pandemic safety measures, my hope is that this might also be helpful to other pastors as they continue to process this with their parishioners in the loving conversations I know they are having with them. I’d also love to hear what you would add to this list! In the meantime, my heart goes with all of you as you practice what has been preached for so long: sacrifice and love, law and gospel, death and life, challenge and hope.
Peace be with you.
P.S. My apologies to any church leaders who read this and felt judged. I know that whatever decisions you've made or will make are difficult and filled with love. My heart goes with you all.
Pastor Ron Valadez
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Auburn CA