Pastor's Response to COVID-19 Outbreak
This week, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 “Coronavirus” outbreak a pandemic. In recent weeks, we’ve taken measures to limit contact and potential spread of the virus in our community and in this church. We’ve all been informed to wash our hands, avoid touching our face, and limit physical touch between one another. In response, large public gatherings have been discouraged, events and conferences have been canceled, sporting events have been postponed, and international travel has been restricted. We are living in interesting times.
While we are anxious about our own health, a pandemic like this causes me to be mindful of the catastrophic impact this virus will have on our most vulnerable members of our communities. Those with compromised immune systems or other health conditions are at great risk. At the same time, preventive measures and restrictions affect employment opportunities and the financial wellbeing of many. Closed schools mean some children will not receive their school lunch that makes for their largest meal of the day. While some of us may be minimally affected by this pandemic, others of us will struggle. Our fears may drive us to close ourselves off from society, but we have an obligation to take care of one another. For those of us who are at lower risk, it’s up to us to take this situation seriously. While the virus may not be deadly to some of us, it’s important that we take precautions to limit our chances of spreading this virus to those at a higher risk. And for those of us who will not be as financially impacted because we can work from home, I invite you to help us access needs and find solutions to meet the needs of those most impacted by what is only going to get worse.
I encourage everyone to use their best judgement in regards to worship attendance or attendance at church events and programming throughout the week. We will do our best to ensure that this is a safe zone where we limit physical contact and disinfect commonly touched surfaces. If you are at high risk, I encourage you to take extra precaution. If you are sick or feel any symptoms that may or may not be a result of this virus, please stay home. It’s better to be cautious than risk the safety of others. If you are sick, feel free to contact the church office so we can keep you in prayer.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that our faith has been tested in this new year. In January, we were all surprised with news that our denomination could be heading towards a split. In February, our church organ was vandalized. And as we go through March we are dealing with this virus. We cannot let this adversity snuff out our faith. We must remain strong by leaning on God and our faith community. I’ll be honest, I was feeling overwhelmed on Wednesday evening. But, in my time of fear and worry, I turned to the words of a Christian song that renewed my spirit. As the song goes:
I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!
I'm gonna sing, in the middle of the storm Louder and louder, you're gonna hear my praises roar Up from the ashes, hope will arise Death is defeated, the King is alive!
As it says in 2 Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” In times of fear, we must turn to our faith. In anxious times, we must not isolate ourselves but look to one another and support each other, trusting that God will see us through. I cannot guarantee that your faith will make you immune. But, we must not let fear win the day and cripple our spirits. The Lord has called us to be his disciples in such a time as this. So, stay strong, stay grounded in faith, and lean on the Lord for peace and understanding. Together, we can overcome this next challenge.