In a series of commandments in Leviticus 19, God’s people are commanded this:
32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
The “fear” of the Lord here is tied directly with how the people treat the elderly and the infirm. This treatment includes an outward sign of revering and respect. In any society or grouping, a lot can be said about the character of the whole by how it treats its most vulnerable, on both ends of the age spectrum – its youngest and its oldest.
This is one revolution – among many – that Christianity has brought with it, whenever it has entered a new society. Abortion – whether in the womb or by after-birth exposure – so common in so many pre-Christian societies – would often be abolished. And the community-wide, intentional neglect of the elderly – vividly described among Native Americans in the book “Centennial” by James Michener – would disappear. The notion of tipping one’s hat or rising in respect of an older person does not just happen in a society – God commands respect, expressed in visible, external acts.
So we want to do the same, as we “reopen” after the lockdown, and begin worshiping together. Our present society already values youth and physical strength over wisdom and years enough; we don’t need to add to that. We need to fear the LORD, in all that we do.
Therefore, as we open, we want to pay special attention and respect to you, if you are a “gray head” or an “old man/woman”.
If you feel that you cannot join us on July 5th, we respect that decision. Yet we don’t want there to be two churches. Therefore, the elders want to keep in touch with you. And if there is anything that you need or would like to discuss, please speak up.
But this means that the rest of the church must look around, and see who’s not there, and take intentional, outward action, out of this respect, out of this fear of the Lord.
Perhaps it’s just a phone call. Perhaps it’s stopping by, as one of our elders has done for several folks, and just talking, from the door to the sidewalk. Regardless, we all have a part to play in this. And again, that part should be visible, outward, and intentional.
We will also be considering Leviticus 19:32 as we design our procedures and approaches to worshiping together. To approach is twofold: to a) apply, in a common-sense fashion, the County’s health guidelines, while at the same time b) creating structures and procedures that wisely love everyone – which includes intentionally respecting the “gray head” and “the old man”.