Swine Flu and Church

Is your congregation taking any extraordinary measures to avoid or limit the spread of swine flu (aka, H1N1 flu in deference to The Vast Pork Rib Conspiracy)?

Several Portland-area congregations are adjusting their rituals to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu. So far, the faithful keep coming to services.

The priest at St. Juan Diego Catholic Parish in Northwest Portland still consecrates wine and bread for Communion, but parishioners have given up sharing the wine and receiving wafers on their tongues. They no longer hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, and the handshakes and hugs that used to accompany the “sign of peace” during Mass are now simple bows.

[…]

Many Protestant churches, synagogues and mosques are also advising congregations to take what are becoming the usual precautions — installing hand sanitizers, encouraging hand-washing and reminding people to stay home if they’re sick — but many individual communities are taking additional steps.

Lake Oswego United Methodist Church has adopted “holy fist bumps” during the sign of peace, says the Rev. Steve Sprecher.

[…]

Gresham United Methodist Church encourages members to wash during the service. “We are offering people a squirt of the disinfectant Purell while they are in line for Communion,” the Rev. Jim Parr Philipson says.

Portland synagogues take similar precautions. Since celebrating the Jewish High Holy Days in September, members of Congregation Shaarie Torah in Northwest Portland have substituted fist bumps for handshakes and hugs, says Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman, who was nursing a cold last month. A few in the congregation have come down with H1N1 flu, but they’re staying home, he says. “People are pretty astute about this. It’s not brain surgery.”

Source: Swine flu is altering how people worship

3 thoughts on “Swine Flu and Church

  1. We tend to be a little on the cynical side toward the WHO, and other health groups too (ie: alternative meds). It seems they all live on the “spectacular” side of life…and often don’t come up with an accurate presentation of truth even in their own supposed “expert” realm.
    Now, we do not down-play the need to be hygenic or courteous when sick. But we’re not promised an illness free life! God often uses sickness to chastise or purify the faith of His people.
    We’ve heard and read of many instances that faithful Christians have ministered during true epidemics (ie: Black Plague, the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, etc.). They did not spare themselves for the sake of their own health. They gave themselves freely to serve God and man. Some caught the epidemic and were very sick; some died. Others were mirculousl spared.
    How is it any different than today? Only that 21st century Westerners are so caught up with personal health that they have a “me first” attitude, and look to either blame their poor health on some one else, or become paranoid by normal living during Flu season.
    By the way, a report we read recently during this Swine Flue Scare Season, (from some missionaries in Central America) observed that it was more Scare than Flu.
    For now, we’ll lean in that direction; as it seems most reasonable.
    But we’ll wash our hands. Cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. Take extra Vitamin C when we have a sniffle. Not offer the holy kiss if we are sick. But we’ll also be avaailble to others, regardless of the Flu season. After all, our lives are in His hands. May He be glorified by us in life, our death.

  2. We tend to be a little on the cynical side toward the WHO, and other health groups too (ie: alternative meds). It seems they all live on the “spectacular” side of life…and often don’t come up with an accurate presentation of truth even in their own supposed “expert” realm.
    Now, we do not down-play the need to be hygenic or courteous when sick. But we’re not promised an illness free life! God often uses sickness to chastise or purify the faith of His people.
    We’ve heard and read of many instances that faithful Christians have ministered during true epidemics (ie: Black Plague, the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, etc.). They did not spare themselves for the sake of their own health. They gave themselves freely to serve God and man. Some caught the epidemic and were very sick; some died. Others were mirculously spared.
    How is it any different than today? Only that 21st century Westerners are so caught up with personal health that they have a “me first” attitude, and look to either blame their poor health on some one else, or become paranoid by normal living during Flu season.
    By the way, a report we read recently during this Swine Flue Scare Season, (from some missionaries in Central America) observed that it was more Scare than Flu.
    For now, we’ll lean in that direction; as it seems most reasonable.
    But we’ll wash our hands. Cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. Take extra Vitamin C when we have a sniffle. Not offer the holy kiss if we are sick. But we’ll also be available to others, regardless of the Flu season. After all, our lives are in His hands. May He be glorified by us in life, or death

  3. About the only change I’ve noticed at the church I attend regularly is that they installed water-free hand cleaner dispensers on walls at various places around the church. (One of them is just inside the door in the ladies’ room, which strikes me as a bit odd – maybe there in case the sinks are all out of order at the same time?

    We visited a Methodist church last month when they were serving Communion, and the pastor commented on how they were distributing it differently than usual in order to minimize chances of spreading germs. They had a common loaf of bread from which the pastor pulled off a piece and handed it to each person, then a tray of individual cups of juice. I suppose they must use a common cup under normal circumstances, though I don’t know if they drink from it and wipe it after each use, or use intinction. Where I regularly go, they have used individual crackers and individual juice cups as long as I’ve been going there.

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