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4/14/21

This Ain’t No Beer Commercial

Way back in the late seventies, there were a series of beer commercials for Miller Lite. These ads brought athletes and other celebrities together who had one thing in common: they liked Miller Lite. In each commercial, however, the famous broke down into two factions: one group highlighted their opinion that Miller Lite tasted great, the other appreciated that it was less filling. The commercials started in a state of beauty and unity, only to devolve into a shouting match of “tastes great” and “less filling”. It was all in good fun and I think Miller sold more beer, which was the point of the commercial in the first place. In the end, it was just a commercial-no big deal.

Christians are a gathering people. One of the most sacred rhythms of followers of Jesus is to gather regularly in His name for the purpose of hearing, believing and advancing the gospel.  

We are facing something more challenging for those who will gather Faith Community in this season now that the governor’s mask and social distancing order is no longer binding. Increased numbers of people are more comfortable to go out in public. We are delighted to see familiar and newer faces making their way to our worship gatherings. The pandemic’s grip seems to be loosening and that is encouraging. We want to provide an environment that promotes our goals in worship, including our need for one another, while remaining wise in regard to health. We can’t guarantee anyone absolute safety from illness, but we don’t want to be foolish either. We remain committed to provide a quality streaming experience not only till the end of the pandemic, but beyond: there are legitimate reasons why people can’t make it to worship, and we want to do what we can to maintain our relationships.

Our marching orders comes from a source higher than Madison or Washington, they come from Scripture and Scripture’s God.

The Bible calls us to gather regularly and to be mindful of one another in the process. We are not merely a collection of individuals; we are a family called to love one another. Which brings us back to masking. Some of our people have yet to come back and want to do so badly. For their spiritual and emotional well-being, we want to accommodate them. In order to do so, the Elders have determined that we will have mask required and mask optional sections in our auditorium. This will create space for those who are more cautious without unnecessarily restricting those whose level of concern is less.

The Elders recognize this move may highlight the tribal tendencies that mark our day. This is not about preferences in drinking, but our health and the well-being of those around us, with those we share a bond that crosses culture, political preference and economic status to name just a few. It is our hope, our prayer, our challenge that the love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” will be on full display as we gather not only this Sunday, but in our future. Decide where you will sit while not looking down on those whose thinking is different and in doing so help create a church culture marked by gracious tolerance.

Carol and I have a six-year-old grandson named Jadon. He is an amazing boy: bright, loving and creative. He faces some physical challenges that most don’t. Carol and I are discussing the possibility of putting a ramp to one of our entrances to make it easier for Jadon to come in and to send the clear message that he is wanted, he is family. Love adapts. As I tell Jadon frequently, I love him every day. The ramp will serve as a reminder to him and others of that love.

Our acceptance of those whose masking preferences and practice don’t mirror ours is an opportunity to show our love to one another: to experience and demonstrate a love greater than tribal tendencies. We invite you to join us in a counter cultural gathering of faith, hope and love this Sunday.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life

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