Well here we go again. Another round of restrictions imposed by our governing authorities. Another set of closures and limitations for small businesses. The people talk and they complain, of course. Our social media feed is full of references to the insane overreach for a virus that has an incredibly high survival rate. Where is the concern for those who are unemployed, or those who are depressed, or those who are lonely?  They tell the churches when to open and when to close, where to worship and how to conduct themselves. They dictate how we are supposed to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving and, without a doubt, Christmas. They believe they have a right and even a responsibility to know what is going on in your home: how many are gathered there and how you are implementing the mandates of the state.

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison (January 30, 1787), discussed the dangers of government and the balance of liberty and oppression. He warned against a government of wolves over sheep and famously said, “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” which can be translated as, “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” Or as we hear it more often these days, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

In a world where most people get their news from social media, anyone with a cell phone is an amateur cameraman, and individuals take to Facebook and Twitter to inform each other of current events, is it really a wonder that we have a hard time discerning what is true? Even our major news outlets read more like opinion than fact, intentionally leaning into overt biases and promoting their own agendas. In a recent interview on Hardcore History Addendum, former journalist Dan Carlin points out, “the democratization of the media has led to the democratization of truth.”

I was able to go to church last Sunday. I do not get to do that very often. Not because of the Covid-19 terror which plagues our land or a lack of desire to attend, rather as a pastor I am usually presiding in the Divine Service, not participating as a worshipper. My “going to church” is marked as my vocation and there are only a handful of times a year where I just go to church and sit in the pew as a layperson.

It used to be that people shunned the use of a mask. Outside of Halloween or playing pranks on our friends, a mask was nothing to be proud of. Sure, we might praise the masked surgeon, fighter pilot, or hero running into danger to save others, but it is in the taking-off of the masks that we find cause for joy and celebration. For it is in the removal of the mask that we see their humanity, we see they are one of us. The fact that there remains a kinship between us and them offer us the promise and hope of potential glory.

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.