Every day in my beautiful parish, worshipping freely with a devout and joyful community, is gravy. I didn’t expect to be a free man this long, and I can’t expect it to last indefinitely. The day after the electoral votes were confirmed, an agent from the City of San Francisco called the parish office. “Are aware of the city regulations on worship services?” the agent asked our parish secretary. She said she was. “Are you aware that only one person at a time is permitted in churches?” The parish secretary thought about our 1000-seat church, and she thought about the retail store she had been in earlier that day with hundreds of people. “Yes, we are aware of that and have signage accordingly,” she replied.
Perhaps our churches will be permitted to remain open, but why should we count on freedom to worship in America when our Christian brethren in Hong Kong have already lost theirs? Christianity, and other religions, have been persecuted by populist movements and reigning governments for millennia. And do we think we will die peacefully in our beds? Perhaps we will, and we must pray for a peaceful social order. But we cannot demand it, and every day we are permitted to worship freely is gravy. The freedom to praise God in joyful community does not last indefinitely in any human society, but it will be perfectly restored in the life of the world to come. We must treasure every day that God gives us life and breath to praise him, looking forward to a place untainted by even the shadow of change.