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I got an email from a church member who was concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus. He has a lot of questions about what his church community may or may not do in light of a possible pandemic. He is obviously scared.

With him being over 65 and at higher risk, this is understandable, even though he has a much higher risk of contracting influenza. His questions included: “Do we have enough hand sanitizer? Will we hand out masks to everyone? Will we suspend holding worship services?”

These are legitimate questions that every worshiping community can answer, but we must not answer them out of fear.

Scripture tells us time and time again, “Do not be afraid.” This does not mean there is nothing to be frightened of. On the contrary, there are countless things in this world to be afraid of. What it does mean is that we do not need to be afraid. We can recognize that there is fear without living in it.

And so when we answer those questions, or any other questions in life, we make the choice to not answer them out of fear. We instead answer them out of preparedness and awareness.

As each and every one of us is God’s creation, God does not want us to live in fear. That is not what God wants for us. A life in fear causes us to close ourselves off from each other; it causes us to make choices out of selfishness and self-preservation; it causes us to cut ourselves off from our own potential.

But when we cast out fear, and we prepare ourselves with skills and knowledge, we can come together as children of God to answer those tough questions. Because not only should we not live in fear, we also should not be without community and family.

We are not meant to live in fear and we are not meant to live in seclusion. I write this as I sit at home recovering from influenza A. My doctor told me that because it is so contagious, I need to, in essence, quarantine myself. That is hard to do as a single mother of two daughters. But I have done my best to keep away from them; I have not gone to work all week; I have not left the house in five days.

And as I am feeling and doing better, I miss my community. I miss the discussions at work. I miss hugging my girls. I miss the littlest interactions with people in Liberty as I run errands. We were made to be in community with each other, and when we are a part of a community, we are much less likely to live in fear.

Rev. Mary Weaver, associate pastor with Liberty United Methodist Church, wrote this column on behalf of the Liberty Ministerial Alliance.

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