Wednesday, July 1, 2020

First Sunday Service after MCO

In my second sermon during the MCO late March, I said that if the MCO went on for two or three months, we might not see the return of half the congregation when the church reopened. I hope my prophecy will remain unfulfilled. For last Sunday, first time church services resumed we saw an attendance of just over a quarter of the usual numbers before the MCO. Our capacity is now only 80 people per service as per SOP limiting to only one third of the capacity. So we hold two services to cater for our congregation which means only 160 people maximum could attend which is also below our usual attendance pre-MCO. Attendance will be affected because senior citizens and children below 12 are not permitted to attend. This impacts young families where at least one parent has to stay home to care for their children at any given time. But besides these valid reasons, I was more worried about the spiritual stagnation that comes with months of non-attendance in church. People are drilled to think that this is a new normal (a phrase I refuse to use) so that it is the Word of God that determines how we think and speak.
If we speak faith, then things will happen. But if we are defeated or succumb to this-worldly talk, then our spirituality suffers. The first Sunday morning service went as well as it could be. It was still abnormal to see the worshippers wearing a face mask during singing. Even when I stepped up to the pulpit I encouraged them to keep their face masks on if that was something they felt comfortable with. But I preached about the role of Ezra in restoring the spirituality of God's people in the middle of 5th century BC with the teaching of the Word and leading prayers. Ezra was a quick scribe in the law of the Lord. He taught the people God's Word. He was moved to prayers for God's help and intervention for his journey back to Jerusalem so that they did not have to seek the king's help. Ezra also prayed when he found out that the people committed transgression of the law in marrying foreign women. He mourned, tore his garments, and prayed from morning to evening until people who saw him praying came to him and joined Ezra in seeking God. He was a leader in prayers and through that he brought the people back to God in obedience and worship.

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