RESUMPTION OF RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES: TO RETURN OR NOT TO RETURN: CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN PERSPECTIVE
During the President’s latest update on the coronavirus pandemic, he relaxed some of the existing restrictions. Among the list were the increase in the number of mourners from 25 to 100 for private burials, the resumption of conferences and the partial re-opening of schools. Also, on the list was the relaxation of restrictions on church activities. The announcement was received with mix feelings especially when the guidelines were outlined. Most believers thought that “half a loaf is better than none”, and that it was better to spend an hour in the house of God, than praying at home. However, the guidelines issued later, erased every joy that accompanied the President’s announcement.
In coming out with the duration for church meetings, the President, being a Christian, himself might have been informed by a question put to the disciples by Jesus Christ. “Why could ye not watch with me one hour?” as narrated in Mathew 26:40. Comments on social media then started coming in; some as emotional and distasteful as one can imagine. But we live in a democratic era, and some of these comments are expected. It only becomes apprehensive when some people decide to go to the courts on this particular issue. They argue that “You can take the horse to the river side, but you cannot force it to drink”. Meaning the President can ask us to return to the churches, he cannot teach us how to pray.” Others say the President’s statement was ironical and that it would be difficult to worship on a Sunday within the time frame. In any case, it was rumored before the announcement that some of our leaders were putting pressure and persuading him to relax the restrictions. They argued that they were in better position to educate the masses than is being done now.
In view of this, the question that comes to mind is, what is the motivation? Is it the financial consideration or the spiritual welfare of their members? If it is financial consideration, then it is most unfortunate, however, if it is spiritual welfare, then, there are more questions to answer. Have the financial positions of the members been considered? Since most businesses are on the verge of collapse. What about their health status, especially the aged. If this is critically considered, then no one would think of going to the church now. It is believed that some of the religious leaders sometimes act in ignorance. An example are those pastors who together with some of their members were arrested and jailed for breaking the law during the lock-down. Should they die in prison; God forbid though; would they have died as martyrs, saints, the wise virgins or the foolish virgins?
Revisiting the guidelines as issued by the Minister, some of them are biblical and practicable. One example is dropping offerings into the bowl at the entrance, if this is adopted, it will prevent the prying eyes of the Pharisees to notice the widow’s mite dropped. On the question of “Return or not to Return”, the answer comes in a form of rhetoric questions. What have we lost during the past two months worshipping from homes; and what can we achieve going back now if one may ask? If we believe in God’s Omnipresence, then that question of where to pray should not invite confrontation. Let us remember we are not in good times; and that we are managing crises which calls for greater sacrifices.
In this regard, fellow Christians, let us lead in the crusade against Coronavirus; that is the only way to ensure a better future. Coronavirus infection is soaring and once there is still no cure for it, the only option is to obey our leaders. This we can do by accepting the guidelines, for there is time for everything; so says the Bible. God on our side, we shall overcome! Long live Ghana, short live Coronavirus!
BY KWAME AKODWAA-BOADIA, A FORMER BROADCASTER AND AKAN LANGUAGE ANALYST