Forsaking the Lord When Assembling Ourselves Together

Clay worships at a Lutheran church outside Chicago. He forwarded me an email from Parson Goat to the hapless congregation:

October 27, 2020

Dear Friends:

You may now sign up to attend Holy Liturgy at these times:

Sunday, November 1 at 8:30 a.m.

Sunday, November 1 at 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, November 4 at 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m.

The Main Street doors open 10 minutes before each service begins. As winter weather approaches, please be prepared to wait outside or in your car if you arrive early.

Clay exclaims: 

Do you know how cold Chicago winters can be, of course you do. 

Wait outside, or in your car – are you kidding me?

Sure, why would you want the faithful coming early to fellowship with their brothers and sisters after all? Better to wait in the car until the last moment, then dart in wearing a mask.  … I’m reminded of how Jesus cared for the children and the infirm, the downtrodden and weak. He went out of his way to “open the door” for them – Titus reminds us that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared unto ALL MEN” (ladies, that includes you). 

He literally died for you, and you can’t be bothered to unlock the door to let someone in out of the cold, you’re going to make them wait in the car or stand outside? Now I’m becoming indignant and reminded of Ronald Reagan when they tried to cut his mic in 1980 – “I’m paying for this microphone, Mr Breen!!” (We’re paying for this building Parson Goat!)

But we interrupted the old Goat: 

Sign-up access automatically ends 48 hours prior to each service so that seating assignments can be finalized.

Back to Clay:

Oh, and make sure to use the third-party signup service early so “seating assignments” can be “finalized.”  Even so, you can’t just let people select their own seats or sit next to whomever they choose, can you? Horror. You could have people who don’t live in the same household sitting next to each other!

There follows an extensive list of instructions governing behavior during services—so many and so picayune I’ll bet mighty little worship happens:

  • Please wear a mask at all times – for the sake of others.
  • Keep a physical distance from others of at least 6 feet at all times.
  • Please bring and use hand sanitizer as you enter and exit …– and before coming to the Holy Supper.  Do be careful, as it is strong enough to take the finish off the pews.

And what about the skin on human hands? Where’s all that concern for others? Oh, I forgot: you’re wearing a mask and need waste no further consideration on your fellowman.

  • The front doors will be propped open before each Liturgy and locked soon after the congregation has arrived.

What is this, Soviet Russia? Or isn’t it Comrade Pritzker and cops but lost and un-”pre-registered” souls these “Christians” fear? And what happens to a visitor unsure of the times for services? Indeed, what of guests in general who neglected to “sign up”? 

This insistence on reserving one’s spot—meant to facilitate “contact tracing”—now characterizes most churches. I’ve asked several Parsons Goat about provisions for visitors; I have yet to receive a response. What a lack of faith and of enthusiasm for spreading the Gospel! Such churches clearly don’t expect the Lord to send any strangers in need of the Good News to them. 

Parson Goat continues:

  • The coat closet, water fountains, coffee bar, Ark, mailroom, Nursery, Commons, elevators, and all other gathering spots are closed.
  • Avoid the washrooms if possible, though they are open if necessary.  Please do not fill them to capacity, but wait for others to exit before entering.

Yeah, I often hang out in the loo when time wants killing. I hereby repent.

  • Keeping a physical distance of 6 feet, please move directly from the front doors into the sanctuary.

No pausing to greet your siblings in Christ. Do you suppose a wave is still allowed?

  • Please sit only in the seat(s) assigned to you.  They will be clearly numbered and staggered throughout the Sanctuary.

Just how absurdly low can Parson Goat sink?

  • Single-use bulletins will be waiting for you at your seat.  Please take them home as you go.

And those diktats only cover the few seconds before services begin! Thereafter:

  • The Liturgy will follow the form of Morning Eucharist.
  • The congregation will not sing.  When we speak together, we will speak softly. …

Ahem. Directly violating Scripture

  • There is no handshake or kiss of peace except among families.
  • As the Holy Eucharist involves close contact with others, please do not feel you must receive it at this time…

Again, directly violating Scripture.

  • Please follow these rubrics to receive the Holy Eucharist.
  • We will not usher communicants to the Supper.  We will not use the altar rail.  We will not kneel for the Supper.  The Pastors will not wear gloves or put the elements into the mouth of a communicant. …
  • Before you come forward, remove any gloves and sanitize your hands.

So what if that shatters your concentration while seeking Christ’s forgiveness? 

  • Please come by family group to the gaps in the altar rail …
  • At the gap in the rail, pull down your mask and then put your hands in the sign of the cross, right hand over left.
  • Before delivering the elements, the Pastor will sanitize his hands.  If contact is made with any communicant, he will stop and sanitize his hands again.

And if you fail to focus on Communion with all these distractions, hey, you’re just a sinful flibbertigibbet.

  • … raise the Host to your mouth, let it stick to your tongue, consume it, pull your mask back up, and return to your seat with your family group.
  • When one family group leaves, the next comes slowly to take their place, maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet throughout.
  • When the Holy Liturgy is finished, please exit the sanctuary promptly, once again maintaining physical distance.

Yes. Don’t dawdle to meditate on all the Savior did for us at the Cross. And, as Clay said earlier, “why would you want the faithful [lingering] to fellowship with their brothers and sisters …?” 

I hope we soon return to obeying the Lord rather than Leviathan: the beast’s protocols are exhausting. By contrast, isn’t Christ’s yoke easy, and His burden light? 

In a final flourish that seems sincere rather than ironic, Parson Goat signed his monstrous missive, “Joy!”


8:18 pm on October 28, 2020