I want to thank the many of you who responded to the survey about our Christmas Eve Worship. The results are about what I expected—a third of you are understandably concerned about attending a gathering such as a Christmas Eve Worship Service; a third of you plan to attend (“in a hazmat suit if necessary”); and a third are undecided.
Christmas Eve, however, is not for another five weeks and a lot may happen between now and then especially if the COVID case rates in Wilson County continue to rise as they have done over the past two weeks. My greatest concern is for the safety and well-being of each of you and for our neighbors. There have only been a couple of cases of COVID within our congregation, and I would like to keep it that way. One local pastor I spoke with this week told me that he had lost three congregants to COVID and had been very ill himself.
On Thursday afternoon, I attended an online meeting between local pastors and Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital. The message of the doctors was to stress to the pastors the need to encourage their parishioners (and everyone) to observe the COVID protocols of masks and distancing. The local hospital is not full now, but they are worried that it could be soon. They are especially concerned about what will happen after Thanksgiving if too many people choose to gather together next week and become infected.
What the hospital doesn’t want to happen is for its beds to become so over-run with COVID patients that people requiring normal medical care are unable to obtain it. They are worried about a shortage of staff. They are worried about a shortage of supplies.
These worse-case scenarios are mostly avoidable if people take the simple precautions of masks and distancing and not congregating. It is certainly no fun, but it is what we need to do right now.
The good news is that two promising vaccines have been announced. From what I have read, the doctors and scientists consider the data from these vaccines to be solid. The original goal was to develop a vaccine with an efficacy rate of 60%. Each of these vaccines promise an efficacy rate over 90%.
This good news should not make us complacent. It will be months before the vaccines are available to the general public. We need to fight our fatigue, make short-term sacrifices, and continue our COVID practices.
This virus is real. This week, our nation marked 250,000 deaths from COVID. That is a quarter-of-a-million lives that were ended too soon. It is callous to justify these losses by saying, “They would have died anyway.” That is unacceptable. Every moment of life is precious. This virus has robbed us of thousands of years of life.
In the meantime, I will continue to monitor the situation in Middle Tennessee. Right now, it would be irresponsible of me to guarantee that we will hold an in-person Christmas Eve Service. That is our plan, but as with everything, we have learned to be flexible.