Bureaucracies in all forms, shapes and sizes have one thing in common, they try and control variables. I don’t think it matters if you are speaking about the federal government or your local city council or, for that matter, your congregational governance, if there is a bureaucracy it has a set of parameters and objectives which give it purpose. They have a specific goal in mind for the organization and a big part of what they must do is control all the variables that might impinge upon that goal.

We have all seen them. Perhaps you are one of them, one of those peculiar individuals we see driving down the road in their own car all by themselves wearing a facemask to combat the Coronavirus. Of course, we know the benefits of wearing a face mask in public. In some places it is not only suggested but required, not only for employees of essential businesses but those who choose to use those businesses as well. But alone in the car seems to be a bizarre and unreflective take on things.

Last week, my good friend and colleague, Rev. Paul Koch, wrote an article on this site entitled, “The Church’s Failure in the Crisis. I’ve known Paul for almost 18 years, and I’m certain that his passionate desire to faithfully serve God’s people led him to write this post. But as much as I respect Paul as a man and fellow pastor, and although I’m confident of the sincere intentions behind his words, I couldn’t more passionately disagree with him.

As we are beginning to see the signs of our economy opening up (well not here in CA, but in some others states), and as we catch glimpses of life beyond this crisis, our thoughts begin to settle again on the future. I, for one, have been thinking a lot about the lessons we will learn from COVID-19. What will be the takeaway for the Christian congregation that tried to navigate the waters of uncertainty and fear while striving to be faithful to their confession and mission?

I have a difficult time viewing safety as a virtue. Resilience perhaps, fortitude to be sure, but not just safety. I want my kids to be safe, of course. I want them to take reasonable precautions when doing dangerous or risky things. Safety serves the risk; it serves a life marked by danger. It is calculated and reasonably weighed out. But danger, why, danger is the stuff that makes life worth living. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “As soon as there is life, there is danger.” To elevate safety above engagement is a cowardly and timid way to engage this world.