Brothers and sisters,
I’m so grateful we serve a God who doesn’t change. Malachi 3:6, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I love how one hymn puts it – “Our Help in ages past is our Hope for years to come.”
In contrast, all the various factors in play with the coronavirus are changing rapidly. What seemed prudent for our church family yesterday is different today. After much conversation and prayer, we decided this morning to cancel all our public meetings and events at our main facility for the next seven days (March 15-21), including our worship service tomorrow.
I believe it’s the right decision given the information we have right now. It also goes against many of my pastoral instincts. When fear and anxiety are in the air, we need the encouragement and comfort that comes from spending time with the people of God more, not less. It is good and right to look one another in the eye, to pray together, to read the Word together, and sing with one voice, “In your everlasting arms, all the pieces of my life, from beginning to the end, I can trust you.”
At the same time, one of the ways we choose to trust God is by respecting the wisdom of public health authorities. Exercising an abundance of caution and proactively caring for the most vulnerable populations in our midst are good things. We want to help limit the number of larger gatherings in our community where sickness could unknowingly be transmitted, especially on the heels of the emergency declaration Chesterfield County officials issued yesterday.
Allow me to make a few specific requests:
- Please take advantage of the extra time tomorrow morning to read God’s Word, pray, and/or gather for family worship. When you do, ask the Lord to physically protect our church members and grant endurance and wisdom to our public health officials. Click here for several messages that will encourage your faith and trust in the Lord.
- Stay in close contact with your Community Group. Smaller groups are much safer than larger ones. We’re leaving it up to the discretion of individual group leaders to decide whether to postpone or continue with planned gatherings this week.
- If the virus begins to spread more broadly in our local community, be aggressive in reaching out to one another to learn if there’s any way you can help. I’m thinking particularly of older folks who are already homebound for various reasons. This is a great opportunity for us to love one another and not let a single person fall through the cracks. Remember, the essence of our body is not a weekly meeting, it’s the covenant relationship we have with one another through Christ. Temporarily holding off on larger gatherings does not mean we stop being the church!
You can expect another update from me about plans for our March 22 service around the middle of next week. Our plan is to approach the situation on a week by week basis. If you have any urgent questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact any of our elders or deacons.
With much affection,