This week HIF transitions back to gathering for worship on Sunday mornings at Westlake and MyDinh after a nine-week experiment in online worship. We use the word transition, instead of resume, because in many ways what we are returning to this Sunday will be different than the worship services that were suspended two months ago. This Sunday we will worship at both locations at the usual times (9am and 11am MyDinh, 10am Westlake) and there will be a modified KidzQuest available at both sites.
Although the government of Vietnam has relaxed most COVID-19 related restrictions, and the common practice in many of our neighborhoods has relaxed them even further, let us be reminded of what the apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian church:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but not everything is constructive. – 1 Cor 10:23 (NIV)
As I read those words, I am reminded of the privilege we feel in serving as the pastors and staff of HIF. Your trust in us is not regarded lightly, so we are taking steps to care for you and the HIF community as we prepare to gather on Sunday and do what we exist to do, Worship God.
Even though all things are [permissible, allowed, lawful] as other translations say, not everything is [helpful, edifying, constructive]. As my mother used to say, “just because you can, does not mean you should.” Paul puts it a different way:
“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” – 1 Cor 10:24 (NIV).
Although, as far as we know, there are no active cases of the Corona virus in Vietnam, and we have nothing to fear, it is the consciences of the pastors and staff of HIF that we still observe a common set of guidelines for how we will gather to worship. We expect the virus to return at some point and the restrictions to tighten and loosen until there is a vaccine, so let us be mindful towards one another and be prepared to go with the flow.
HIF Community Guidelines:
No Hugging or Handshaking – Instead try one of these other international ways of greeting:
* Elbow bump – West Africa, often called the “Ebola Handshake”
* Wai bow – Thailand, put hands together as if in prayer and bow your head
* Two Claps greeting – Zimbabwe
* Hand over heart – Middle East, place open palm over your heart like a pledge, or in a fist tapped twice on the heart
* Salute wave – American Sign Language, hand to forehead like a salute, but then hand goes up like a wave.
* Footshake – just YouTube it.
* Vulcan Salute – Find a Star Trek fan or just google it.
Wear Masks – The wearing of masks is currently a requirement for large group gatherings. Religious institutions are requested to follow these instructions. Even though it is less comfortable with singing and talking, everyone will need to wear masks BEFORE entering Detech Tower or Hanoi Club and for the entire worship service. We will have some masks available and are ordering very comfortable masks with Love Hanoi branding for purchase soon.
Seat Distancing – Although not required, we recommend leaving a seat between you and non-family members (which is not unusual anyway). The row spacing will be more generous than before.
Temperature Check (Westlake) – As Hanoi Club is a hotel, they are required at this time to check the temperature of each guest upon entry. Please comply respectfully. If you have a fever or other symptoms, please do stay home and worship online with us.
Offering Collection – Will be “West African Style” where everyone comes forward to place their offerings in a box or basket.
Drinks & Snacks (MyDinh) – This will be single disposable servings. Please clean up after yourself.
Cleaning – Both HIF sites will be cleaned and surfaces disinfected each week.
These HIF Community Guidelines are a week-by-week work in progress and may change in future weeks as we learn more about what this “new normal” actually looks like. We began this COVID-19 journey with this encouragement from the Elders:
As a church, our two highest callings are to love God and to love neighbor.
Now that HIF is transitioning back to gathering for worship on Sunday mornings, we will continue to love God and love neighbor by observing this common set of community guidelines. While some desire to greet each other more than we will, let us remember what Paul wrote: “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others,” and for the good of others, we all will refrain.
Pastor Steve Buchele