Questions on Meeting at God’s House and in Our Homes or Other Places, Part 1
Psalm 42 remembers when the writer used to "go ... in procession to the house of God with glad ... songs of praise, a multitude ..." (v. 4) but he's been away from that in a downcast soul, mourning, feeling forgotten, with waves of emotions rolling over him (v. 5-7, 9). As the deer pants for water, his soul thirsts for God in corporate worship and longs to have the answer to his question "When shall I come and appear before God?" (v. 1-2).
That's a good question and desire, and it's also good for to ask ourself why we're downcast and to answer ourself "Hope in God; I shall again praise him" (v. 5, 11). Like the psalmist who was away from corporate worship for many days, let's remember "By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me" (v. 8).
Psalm 27:4 asks one thing of the Lord, one thing above all to seek after: to dwell in the house of the Lord to behold the Lord's beauty. It's good as a church to ask for and seek after that and to pray v. 11 "Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path"
These are great questions to ask of God. None of us have all the answers, and that's ok! But here's what we know at this point:
#1 question for many: when and how can the church gather again?
Answer: We hope to know more soon. Indoor assemblies of hundreds are not part of stage 2 for CA but churches are pursuing requests to meet outdoors or in smaller groups initially. Our county health officer has agreed to meet with pastors this coming Wednesday. Let's be in prayer this week and hope in God like Psalm 42!
#2 question: what about being with people outdoors or in your home?
Answer: We have asked for more clarity on that as well for our county, and also asked the Governor's office (click here for letters we've sent on that). We hope we'll have more to share soon. Until then here are answers available about small gatherings (as of 5/9):
CA Bureau of Land Management guidelines for hiking: “most trails remain open and available to the public... Visitors may continue to enjoy BLM-managed public lands in a safe and responsible manner... maintain a safe distance between yourself and other groups; limit your group to 10 people or less..."
From official site on Outdoor recreation or activity: "So long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who aren’t part of your household, it is ok to go outside for exercise, a walk... avoiding crowded trails & parking lots..."
Clarity on March directive regarding older relatives having family over: “Health Chief Dr. Peter Beilenson told The Sacramento Bee that his guidelines, as of now, are that people 65 and older who are healthy... can have friends over to their homes, as long as everyone is healthy. That would include...for family to visit each other. “Otherwise, you have no life,” he said.’ https://amp.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article241231386.html
SacBee “Answers to your questions about ‘stay at home’ coronavirus orders in Northern California” CAN I HAVE FRIENDS OVER TO MY HOUSE? The directive does not address the question of visitors... health chief Beilenson, speaking to The Bee, said he believes people can have some friends over to their homes, but not a group of people. Only visit others if you and they are healthy. Maintain a 6-foot distance and wash hands frequently. Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article241299741.html#storylink=cpy
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — 3/19: Newsom issued a stay at home order for all of California ... The shelter in place order [previously in Bay Area] allows ... private gatherings of not more than six nonrelatives in a home or place of residence. Social distancing should be practiced at all times at such gatherings.
UPDATES AS OF 5/22 GOVERNOR'S PRESS CONFERENCE: CA GATHERING GUIDELINES TO BE ANNOUNCED MONDAY 5/25. A FUTURE POST WILL DISCUSS THIS UPDATE
Other questions: There seems to be some inconsistency in application and lack of clarity in other statements. Should we still submit to the government and how should we relate to Christians who have different views than us or our leaders (church or state)? How should the church exercise our rights?
Answer: To some degree some of those questions will be addressed in tomorrow's sermon (but not to everyone's satisfaction :) Click here for more. Other posts or videos Lord-willing we'll share in the future as your shepherds want to shepherd us to Psalm 27:11.
As we wait for when we can be in God's house like Psalm 27:4, let's also join him in v. 13-14 saying "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the LORD!"