Minding the Gap

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I have seen warnings in subway stations in different parts of the world to “mind the gap.” They serve as a warning about the space between the platform and the door of the train. If you don’t pay attention, serious injury can result. This helpful phrase has become somewhat ubiquitous to describe many situations where we should pay attention. I suppose I am not the first to make this connection, but with COVID-19, when it comes to social distancing, we should also be alert to “mind the gap.”

Christians love one another. It is our birthmark. John wrote, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (1 John 5:1). Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). And “love” loves a crowd. Because we love one another, we want to be with one another. The desire to gather with other Christians is a sign of spiritual health (Hebrews 10:23–25). Christians love to be with one another. For this reason, one of the most frequently repeated commandments in the New Testament is “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16, 20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14). The Greek term for “greet” means “to enfold another in your arms.” And “holy kiss” implies having and showing affection for another. It is akin to a hearty and meaningful handshake. In other words, Christians don’t love from a distance; they desire to be with one another, and appropriately close to one another. COVID-19, however, has complicated this. For the time being, we need to “mind the gap”: no hugging, no handshaking, and, please, no kissing!

With our ability to assemble with greater numbers on Sundays, and with our planned one-assembly on Sunday morning, 18 October, we need to be wise and mind the gap. We are grateful that the infection rate in our country has significantly reduced, but we would do well to realise that the coronavirus is still with us. And it probably will be with us for the foreseeable future. Until a vaccination is available, we need to continue to exercise social distancing and to practice the now commonly practiced protocols.

Though the government no longer prohibits singing when churches gather, we need to be cautious as we reintroduce this longed-for expression of worship. As we sing behind our masks, we should be careful to “mind the gap” between our droplets (amazing how this word has become so common!) and those around us. Therefore, sing meaningfully and yet conscientiously. Shout to the Lord in your heart while at the same time restraining your vocal cords.

We also need to mind the gap when we are seated. As you have noticed, the church hall is set up to look somewhat “normal,” though rows are separated by 1.5 metres. When you seat yourself, and those with you, please leave two chairs between you and other “units.” It would also be helpful if you can do some spur-of-the-moment geometric calculations to achieve the most efficient use of chairs. If we seat ourselves efficiently, we can maximise attendance (including the balcony) to 212 people per service. This will enable us to easily accommodate the entire membership, plus visitors, over the two morning services. This will assist us also in having quite a full house for the 5:30 PM service. In other words, mind the two-seat gap but, please, don’t widen it to three!

It has been an increasing joy for more and more of us to gather on the Lord’s Day. We love being together. And though “minding the gap” is a schlep, it beats not being together at all. So, let’s be conscientious and considerate, following reasonable protocols, and keep worshipping our great God together.

Minding the gap with you,

Doug