As all of our nation and our world wrestles with the dilemma of the coronavirus, our church is also seeking to determine how to be faithful to God and to one another in these anxiety-producing times. After much deliberation, our Governing Board reached a consensus to suspend our Sunday worship services on March 22 and March 29. This decision was not made lightly. All of us are heartbroken that we will not have the joy of gathering together as a community of faith, but the Governing Board discerned that the potential spread of germs could do more harm than good, and we trust that while this problem may temporarily hinder us, we will nevertheless continue God’s good work in the future so that all can share in the life-changing love of Jesus Christ.
In the midst of this global pandemic, I want to remind all of us that throughout His ministry, Jesus blessed His disciples with the words –
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be anxious.” . . .
and in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wrote,
“Have no anxiety about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”
However, we live in an age where people seem to have difficulty remembering these messages. We live in a time of uncertainty where much of life for many people is driven by fear, and the anxiety level of the world grows higher and higher around us.
The role of the church in the twenty-first century church is not to get caught up in the pain of fear and anxiety but rather to lead with a sense of calm, hope, and clear direction. When people, congregations, and communities become anxious, the natural response is to react (or over-react) out of that anxiety and fear in an emotional way. Thus in these anxiety-filled times let us, as faithful servants and followers of Jesus Christ, listen for Christ’s word of hope and peace, and then move forward as we discern God’s direction. I also invite to continue to pray for our church, our nation, and our world as we confront this current crisis, and I have included a prayer at the conclusion of this email.
May God surround you with love, grace, and peace.
God of all that is seen and unseen,
amid the rising fear and our anxiety throughout the nation and the world caused by the Coronavirus,
we are thankful that on these occasions in which we are to engage in social distancing,
You are never distant from us,
and even when we are to avoid contact with other people,
You hold us in Your hand (Psalm 139:10).
Because You value and cherish all life,
we pray that You would empower us to do our best to care for the lives of our fellow human beings,
and grant that our love for You would shine forth through our care for one another.
Through the touch of the Great Physician,
instill wisdom and grace to all doctors, nurses, caregivers, scientists, and those who seek the best methods of
and guard all people from the impact of this illness,
and especially the healthcare workers,
those already physically fragile,
the vulnerable among us,
and people whose livelihoods are tied to the regular movement of people and commerce.
In our connectedness with one another,
shape our thoughts and actions in ways that will foster the common good,
increase kindness and compassion among us,
and equip us to be more humane and hopeful.
In the days ahead,
bring healing to the sick;
confer strength upon the caregivers;
share comfort to those who mourn;
bestow peace upon those in quarantine,
and impart grace to all of Your beloved creation,
for we ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.