I heard a man in Bible class lament that young people these days use any excuse to skip worship. He said, “Look at all these elderly people who are in constant pain and they make the effort to be here every time the doors open and these young folk stay home because they have a ‘headache.'” I heard a preacher tell a story about a disabled woman in another country who crawled her way through over a mile of mud and dirt and broken glass just to make it to worship. Yet another man relished the story of his father letting almost an entire crop rot in the field in order to be at services on Sunday morning, decimating the yearly income of his humble family.
Well, I’m sick. Eh, I feel fine, but I’m not going to services this morning. Before you decide that I have weak faith or lack of commitment, let me explain. I have a drip in the back of my throat, swollen neck, increased sleepiness; my child has chest congestion, coughing fits, and possibly an ear infection; my husband is sneezing like a madman and going through boxes of Kleenex. Small grievances. Nothing we couldn’t work through.
But who’s more important? My child or the child that sits behind us? My child or the two newborns in the pews across from us? Me or my immune-compromised brethren? My husband or that elderly person who struggles with constant pain but is dedicated to coming every time the doors are open? How dare I jeopardize their health so that I can be there?
The church is your family. Would you chance getting your family sick? I think people have different standards but, in these circumstances, if the event was a dinner at my parents’ house, we would certainly cancel. They would understand. I wouldn’t feel guilty. They wouldn’t get sick. Why should I treat the church like they aren’t my family?
If the tables were turned, I’d want you in bed resting. I’d want your kid at home in their comfortable environment, with medicine and food at hand, and whatever else they might need. Please, take care of yourself. Please, don’t let this weigh on your conscience as you allow your body to take the natural path back to health: rest.
This is not to say that I never want to be in the presence of a sick person. On the contrary, Jesus commanded us to minister to the sick; James told us to take care of the elderly and orphans. But those newborn children sleeping in their blankets ten feet from you don’t need to take care of you while you’re sick. That’s not their job. Those elderly people have already performed many years of devoted service to the church. It’s our turn to take care of them now. So don’t risk their health.
A lot of this controversy is a matter of personal opinion. Some people were raised to be at worship bronchitis, fever, flu, hives, or not. But, personally, I’d appreciate it if you kept your coughing, barfing child at home and not make my kid sick. So, please, give us grace while the hubsy and I make the best decisions we can for our three-member family and for our much larger [church] family.