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Perhaps you saw a headline similar to this one:

"Federal court permanently blocks New York's restrictions on houses of worship"

That happened this week when U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto decided in favor of religious liberty and against Governor Cuomo's restrictions on houses of worship.

What does this mean for Bethel? For now, nothing will change for our services. We will continue to have services at 9:30 AM & 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings and livestream on YouTube/Facebook. We will continue to ask questions & check temperatures at the door as well as ensure spacing throughout the sanctuary.

Throughout the pandemic, we have tried as best as we could to follow the guidance of our political leadership as seen in Romans 13. Even greater than our obedience to the laws of this land is our obedience to commands of our Lord. Everything that we have chosen to do at Bethel through these difficult days is based on our understanding of scripture. More than the law of the land, here is the law we follow:

John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (ESV)

Galatians 5:14 - For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (ESV)

James 2:8 - If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. (ESV)

Our understanding of these verses is that we love our neighbors by putting their needs and their safety above our own desires. We continue to make sacrifices in order to tangibly demonstrate love to those around us. As Kurt shared on Sunday, Christ modeled what it means to be a sacrificial servant.

We long for the time when we can gather together without masks & without the need for distancing. We want to put away the thermometers & truly greet all who come. We are working & preparing for that day, but that day is still to come.

We are blessed to have our prayers answered regarding religious liberty. While we continue our prayers for God to remove the virus completely, we also pray asking God that churches in other states & nations would be allowed to reopen safely. For the political leaders, we ask that God would grant them wisdom to care for all people. We continue to pray for healing for those infected with COVID and pray for those families grieving the loss of loved ones. We pray for the healthcare workers who faithfully serve. We pray for businesses, economies, and families who have suffered financially. As we continue to lift up our prayers to the Lord, may He deal favorably with us.