Uncertainty is a fact of life in our broken world. The current COVID-19 crisis is resulting in significant uncertainity for individuals, families, churches, communities, states and nations. As followers of Jesus, there are a number of truths that bring insight and comfort, including the following:
God alone is our source of safety and protection. We must trust him.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2
Uncertainity and trouble are occasions for loving God and loving others.
"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" Mark 12:30-31
Creation is cursed because of sin and rebellion against God, but we can confidently and patiently hope and wait for the redemption of all things.
"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:22-25
Our first concern as church leaders is to facilitate ongoing mutual worship of God, care for each other and outreach to the lost. We believe that we can continue to "make disciples who make disciples" even during a unique crisis such as the one we are currently facing. We also believe it is our responsibility, in light of the nature of the crisis, to prioritize precaution and prevention. What is clearly evident about the virus is that it can spread easily and rapidly in public settings where a number of people are gathered. In light of this and in response to the growing local and national concern, we have decided to cancel all church gatherings for this Sunday, March 15 That includes Sunday School, corporate worship, youth group and Thrive.
We will continue to monitor the situation as well as directives from local authorities while also preparing to gather next Sunday March 22 after identifying and following through on meaningful precautionary measures. It is important that we stay connected as a church community, that we become aware of fellow church members who have practical needs and respond as we are able to broader community needs. We need to be together, but we need to be safe and reasonable.
Senior citizens and those with underlying health issues should use an abundance of caution in participating in larger gatherings. If anyone needs help with practical needs, please contact one of the elders or pastors.
Christians are called to pray for our leaders-in the church and in government. Let's commit to doing that, being supportive of them and of each other and staying alert to ways we can minister God's grace in this situation.
An audio sermon from Mark's gospel and a short reflection on what the world is facing will be posted on the church website this Sunday. We can all be thankful for a number of resources for spiritual growth and encouragement via the internet. Also, be proactive: If you are aware of fellow church members who don't have access to email or to the internet, contact them via phone to share this update.
Thanks for your prayers and patience!
The Elder Board of MABC