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Reflections, and Resources, for Christians Who Can’t Go to Church during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Ryan MacPherson

If I attend church this morning, I could be fined $1,000 or imprisoned for 90 days.

In America.

In small-town, midwestern America.

I’m not a convict.

I’m not a fugitive.

I’m not infected (to the best of my knowledge) with COVID-19.

But, just in case, last Sunday my church told everyone to stay home.

Yes, last Sunday, it was against the church to go to church. (They provided a videostream service instead.)

This Sunday, today, it is against the state to go to church. I could get arrested just for trying.

No kidding.

Not a dream.

Not quite a nightmare, either.

More like a tragedy. “Tragedy,” in the tradition of the Greek playwrights, had a peculiar meaning: it wasn’t just that the story ended in sadness, but rather that it must do so, that it inescapably would have a bad ending, and, moreover, the main characters knew this but were powerless to do anything about it. They act, and sometimes aim to act freely, but always, it is as if someone else is pulling their puppet strings.

If we could do it all over again, what would we do differently?

Since we can’t go back to re-do any of it differently, what should we do now?

Following are some resources to help you think through how we got to where we are, and how we might get to where we’d like to be. There is no formal position statement here. Even if I tried to write one, it would be obsolete by the time you read it, in this rapidly changing COVID-19 era. I offer simply some food for thought and some resources for encouragement—including some timeless resources.

Is the Church the Problem or the Solution?

Must Services Be Canceled? (Dare We Postpone Easter?)

What Counts as Essential?

Celebrating Holy Communion by Remote Control?

Are There Innovative Ways to Maintain Old Traditions?

Is There Anything New Under the Sun?

Are We in Danger of Losing Our Civil Liberties to Opportunistic Technocrats?

Are We Subject to the Unyielding Tyranny of Fate, or Are We Blessed by the Providential Hand of God (No Matter What Anyone Else Tries to Bring Against His Church)?

Recall the reference to Greek tragedies: there, fate controlled all. The Bible, by contrast, teaches the doctrine of Providence: God daily and richly provides for all our needs of both body and soul. We cannot always identify when or how God does so, but here are some possibilities for your consideration. In addition to “flattening the curve,” look for these blessings:


Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their homeschool children in Mankato, Minnesota, where he teaches American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.

TAGS: Home Devotions, Civic Order, Religious Liberty, COVID-19

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