This Message is from Nick Park, the Executive Director of Evangelical Alliance in Ireland
It is worthwhile listening to especially in the light Easter, the lock down and our attitude the lock down.
Dear Evangelical Friends and Church Leaders,
Easter is all about grief and joy, about darkness and light. The Satanic oppression of the Cross is followed by the wonder of the Empty Tomb.
We have experienced more than a year of turmoil and death. Churches have suffered, just like so many other areas of life. Yet we now see rates of Covid-19 infections falling dramatically among the elderly, the vulnerable and our frontline health workers. This last stretch of the fight against this pandemic should be a time of hope, yet it seems as if anger and frustration is increasing. After so many months of restrictions and public health measures, people are understandably fed up. The notion of ‘all being in this together’ has sometimes been replaced by different groups, be they business, professional, sporting, cultural or some other category, pleading their own special interests.
Now is not a time for the Church to give way to frustration or division. We have a God-given mandate to be people of faith and hope, a beacon of light to our nation that is demonstrably different from much of the self-interest we see around us.
Evangelical Alliance Ireland would urge churches and individual believers to continue to observe the current public health legislation. We note that there is a legal challenge to the prohibition against in-person public religious services, but at present it is still deemed illegal for churches to physically gather.
When this present crisis has finally passed, how will our role as the Church be remembered? Will people say that the Church made great sacrifices out of love for their neighbours? Or will they say that we were primarily preoccupied with insisting on our own needs and rights? At this Easter time, I am irresistibly drawn to the truth that Jesus laid aside his equality with the Father to become a servant, obedient even unto death on the Cross. Following Jesus means we become like Him, not just another group demanding special treatment alongside various trades, businesses, and occupations.
We would implore Christians to desist from using inflammatory language about persecution or discrimination. We have a responsibility to be truthful, and it is clear that church gatherings are not being singled out above other activities. We are being treated the same as many other public gatherings, such as cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys, museums, and art galleries. To describe this as persecution is an insult to those Christians elsewhere in the world who endure genuine persecution on a daily basis.
We would also ask Evangelical Christians to pray for, and support, the Gardai. They have a difficult job to do, and often become a target for people’s frustration. We should offer them love, encouragement, grace and respect.
Finally, let us seek unity in the Body of Christ. Others may take a different view from us, but that should not give us cause to withhold our love or to speak in ways that diminish their dignity. We will be spending eternity together in the presence of Jesus, so let us continue to pray for one another and to extend grace and mercy.