There is a sense of relief and gratitude around New Zealand that the situation with the Covid 19 virus has now much improved, and the move to Alert Level 2 is widely welcomed. It will be great to meet again with family and friends. The present restriction to gatherings of 10 means however that churches cannot yet gather together, and this has caused some anxiety and frustration for some. Against that backdrop, the NZCN team proposes these reflections…
- We support the desire of the Government to protect human lives by managing and reducing the risks of infection wherever groups are gathered. Keeping people safe is part of any government’s God-given responsibilities.
- We accept (with some misgivings) that because of the potential irresponsibility of a few, the Government felt that police needed some temporary extra powers at this time so that they can swiftly intervene when some people act in ways that put everyone else at risk.
- We do not see any clear evidence of some underlying Government agenda to actively single out and discriminate against Christians and churches at this time.
- We do look for greater consistency in how many people are allowed to gather in different contexts, and for the Government to weigh more fairly the relative risk of various settings.
- We eagerly look forward to when churches are permitted to gather again, physically. We recognise that this will probably happen incrementally, and over some time, and that larger churches may be affected for longer.
- We urge all churches to be very cautious, to respect the restrictions, and to scrupulously follow all safety procedures. Society is still facing a highly dangerous contagion, which could very easily kick back and re-establish itself. Church gatherings are not without significant risk. Just one person could infect many others in a congregation, and as a result some could die. We have a responsibility of care both to our own people (including those most vulnerable), and to society around us.
- We continue to embrace the many opportunities of this time for Gospel proclamation, for greater reach on-line, for innovations, for small house gatherings, for small groups, for pastoral care, and for loving our neighbours.
- We remain in prayer for the Government, for the health of New Zealanders, for those who mourn, for the spiritual renewal of our society, for the recovery of the economy, for those who have lost jobs and businesses, and for those many less-privileged and less-resourced societies around the world which are much more vulnerable than our own.
Arohanui from the NZCN team