Love and Knowledge
And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
I hope that you have already heard that LA County has now mandated the use of masking indoors for all again, effective yesterday, July 18. You can read the revised health order here.
Last week, LA County recommended this, but this weekend they moved the recommendation to a new mandate. This is a response to the rapid increase of COVID cases, especially with the Delta variant, which is many times more easily spread. While the case rate has tripled over the last two weeks, and the death rate has doubled, the vaccination rate has stayed essentially the same: 60.1% of residents are partially vaccinated, and 52.6% have been fully vaccinated. The positivity rate has moved to 3.17%, almost 2.5 times the positivity rate from two weeks ago—and 7 times the positivity rate a month ago.
Personally, I think this is more easily administered than the prior order, which allowed vaccinated people to go unmasked. It was highly confusing to have some businesses still requiring full masking, and even when they didn’t, there was no easy way to enforce masking of the unvaccinated. You may know that we had suggested asking all worship attendees to continue wearing masks anyway, so you don’t cause divisions between the masked and the unmasked (and you wouldn’t have to question people about their vaccination status).
While the percentage increases are huge and the growth rapid, the actual numbers are still somewhat low. The confusing thing for me is the fact that the vaccinations seem to protect people extremely well, yet the demand for vaccinations continue to be stalled. It would be sad if the lower vaccination rate enables new variants to appear.
One other new requirement from the County: if you have an unvaccinated employee, you are required to provide a free N95 respirator if asked. There is an organization providing free or low-cost masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE); see the attached flyer.
I’m sure this is confusing and frustrating. But my hope is that we Christians can approach the challenges of life with both love and knowledge, as Paul wrote to the Philippian church, from his prison cell. There are frustrations and setbacks, even injustices and harm done to us. We must not shy away from the knowledge of these challenges, yet we can respond with love and insight and the hope for a “harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” Paul himself modeled it in this letter, as he acknowledges his imprisonment, yet finds reason to give thanks to God, and is encouraged by the knowledge of the faithful prayers of the churches.
It’s interesting how often government officials are asking faith leaders to encourage and facilitate vaccinations. They are counting on the cooperation of church leaders based on your compassion, combined with an education level that leads you to see the logical advantages of vaccinations, and the faith in seeing God’s gift in providing the vaccinations.
In the coming weeks, I join Paul in praying for love and knowledge and insight, always seeking to reflect and share the glory of God trough the grace—and patience—of Jesus Christ. I also ask that you live out your prayers with actions to protect your communities with wise safety protocols.
And, on another note, let us expand and build our knowledge and insight with our summer activities, including taking the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), and joining our “Processing the Pandemic” and anti-racism groups. Let me or Ally Lee know if you have questions or are interested.
In closing, let me again reference Paul, who continued in Philippians 3:12-14:
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
May you find strength to press on, knowing that Christ Jesus has made you his own.