Let’s talk about a political division we navigated in our church a couple years ago:  reopening amidst the pandemic.

First, a few quick vignettes of some pertinent background…  On January 31, 2020, President Trump banned flights from China, the known epicenter of the virus, to prevent it from spreading through the US.  Candidate Joe Biden accused Trump of xenophobia.  The virus was no big deal.
At the end of February, Speaker Nancy Pelosi toured San Francisco’s Chinatown to demonstrate that people could go on enjoying life.  The virus was no big deal.

Speaker Pelosi didn’t wear a mask in Chinatown because masks were not necessary.  Weeks before Pelosi’s visit to Chinatown, Dr. Fauci said “the typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out the virus, which is small enough to pass through the material…I do not recommend that you wear a mask…”  Days after Pelosi’s trip through Chinatown, Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted:  "Seriously people-STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus…”.

That was the narrative as we entered March 2020.  Life is good.  The virus is no big deal.  Masks don’t stop the virus and are of little use.

Within a month these same people were shouting a different narrative.  It wasn’t safe to go out.  Lock down!  Stay home!  At least two million people were going to die if we didn’t take safety measures.  Wash your hands.  Maintain social distance.  And for the love of God, WEAR A MASK!  Masks will save lives.

My brain suffered whiplash from the rapid and radical change in the narrative.

People chose which narrative they’d believe, and believers in each narrative attended our church.  Both were represented in our church board discussions about how to proceed in the face of the virus.  We agreed to “flatten the curve” in March, and then followed the “narrative of caution” suggested by the governor, remaining closed through April and May but providing online sermons.

As June rolled around, our governor preached caution but exercised little himself.  He took part in the mass protests going on at the time with little concern for social distancing and though he was masked, many around him were not and nothing was said about it.  Meanwhile, restaurant owners were threatened with revocation of their licenses if they refused to enforce social distancing and masking regulations.

Ordinary Americans were prevented from attending family funerals and were warned to limit holiday gatherings.  Police, we were told, would be watching.  But Hollywood and Washington elites continued to enjoy their parties, sitting unmasked right next to each other.  Their waiters, however, had to be masked.
Rules for thee but not for me.  It was safe to go to Wal-mart, but not to church.

Our ears heard what was said, but our eyes saw what was being done.  As a board we followed our eyes and prepared to re-open the church.

To be continued…