Eddie White preaches at the Eastside Church of Christ, and his task each Sunday is to transport the example and teachings of a carpenter born in Bethlehem into the hearts of church members.
White believes Jesus and his early followers have much to say to the Colorado Springs of 2020. This belief led White to perilous preaching territory.
Yes, he’s been preaching on COVID-19.
“It feels like people are digging in on sides on this and people are politicizing it,” he says. “You’re not just talking about a virus. You’re talking about whether you like Donald Trump or Jared Polis.
“You got people on both sides on it, and no matter what you say some people are going to be angry at you.”
White is talking Tuesday afternoon behind a school desk on the lawn in front of the Eastside building. Each Tuesday, he sits at this desk from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to visit with church members in the sunshine. He seeks to befriend everyone who attends Eastside.
His connection with his church, he believes, allows him to examine controversial subjects. His connection gave him the courage to preach seven sermons on The Virus with two more to go.
He’s been specific in the series. Early in the summer, he examined the question, “To Mask or Not to Mask.” White dislikes wearing a mask, which causes his glasses to fog and leaves him looking, borrowing his word, “goofy.” Yet he believes a Christian should wear a mask in public as a statement of care to fellow woman and man.
He examined the sudden emergence of COVID-19 “experts” who know little and perhaps nothing important about The Virus. In that sermon, he returned to the harrowing Old Testament tale of Job, a man who saw his children, livestock and servants perish before being smitten with boils from foot to head.
“The story of Job is a perfect one,” White says in the shade of a tree. “He was going through his own pandemic. And his friends came in and said, ‘We’re going to explain this to you.’”
Job’s friends believed themselves experts, but they were, White says, similar to many 2020 COVID-19 experts. Those friends only brought added misery and confusion to Job’s life.
White looked at the discomfort and anger in the hearts of many Christians when they were not allowed by Gov. Polis to attend worship services. He was intrigued by a passage from the 17th chapter of Acts in the New Testament.
“God ... does not live in shrines made by men,” the Apostle Paul said to believers and unbelievers in Athens.
Some Christians, White says, believe “you can’t have church if you can’t meet within the four walls of the building.”
“If that is your opinion of church then you have a very limited and unbiblical view of what church is,” White says. “In Acts 17 Paul is standing among all these church buildings and he is saying, ‘No, God doesn’t live in these buildings. He’s not restricted to this.'
“I wonder if, like in Athens, if our structures and buildings have not become our idols. ... I wonder if all this emotional response to the government restrictions on our gatherings is nothing more than Gov. Polis taking away our idol.
“One of the lessons God is teaching us in the coronavirus is: My God is not restricted by this brick and mortar building.”
White has marched into controversy, but of course he has. COVID-19, responsible for more than 163,000 American deaths, ignites argument as no other subject. He knew his series would inspire emotional agreement, and disagreement.
And he’s fine with that.
“It’s extremely important that what is talked about in here,” he says, pointing to Eastside’s sanctuary, “is what we’re experiencing out there.”
He’s pointing toward the rest of Colorado Springs.