COVID-19 our next steps - caring for our community
Constant change is here to stay...
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus — 20 he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh ) — 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. -- Hebrews 10:19-25
I grew up regularly hearing this phrase, “Constant change is here to stay.” There were times in my life that challenged my understanding of that statement…then, there’s been this week. It’s not unusual for me to think through transitions from multiple angles - some happening slowly (almost unnoticeably) over time, and others, quite quickly. Then, there’s been this week.
This week has looked like - making a phone call about a new piece of information which is then outdated by the time I hang up the phone. Or, one national declaration leading to a variety of state and local government declarations that seem like dominos to falling - one affecting the next.
Perhaps you can relate. Perhaps you feel exhausted by it - frustrated by the changes in your family, campus or workplace dynamic. Perhaps you just feel numb.
One thing has become clear, we are running low on adjectives to describe what is happening around us. I sense the groanings of creation all the more and my own personal desire for our Savior to Lord over the earth in all His perfection because: “He who promised is faithful”.
I know that to be true. I’ve seen it time and time again in my life. And, I’ve heard your stories that testify of the same. We believe that is one of the beauties of the gathered church - proclaiming His faithfulness. We have the opportunity to come before our faithful God, drawing near with others who’ve been assured of faith, holding to our confession, as those who have hope. We see gifts at work to build up, encourage and comfort. Oh, how we need this to be a reality in our lives.
I have really been looking forward to spending this Sunday morning with you all - praising God together, having our heads gently lifted from our circumstances to look to Christ, where our help truly comes from. Sadly, it seems now, gathering like that could be a harm to so many - not only in our church, but our community as well.
You may ask, “But what about verse 25? It says not to neglect gathering together...” I understand. But I also believe that the love and good works we’re being called to at this time, as a church, include not gathering for a season. This is a way to honor those who help govern us, and support our community, without being at odds with its leaders. It’s also a practical step we can take to care for those who are vulnerable.
Beginning Sunday, March 15th, until further notice, all public gatherings and regularly scheduled meetings are being suspended.
I do not believe that suspending our services and gatherings during this unique season is a disobedience to our call as believers to gather. I believe it is obedience to display a selfless love and a concern for our neighbors, Romans tells us this is the Mark of a true follower of Christ (ch.12). Don’t forget the next part of verse 25. We are called to encourage one another. We have so many avenues (without being face to face) to encourage. Isn’t that a practical way we can care for one another?
Ways to gather and stay connected...
In the meantime, we will be live-streaming our Sunday Celebration services on Facebook Live, we’ll be there, each week at 10am to worship and spend time in God’s Word together and then in the afternoon, we will upload the video to our website along with the sermon notes.
We understand this is not ideal, and though we will miss gathering physically with our church family, we are thankful that God has given us technology that can be used for his glory in times like these.
Community Groups will gather as they deem they can. Some of our groups will need to suspend gathering to serve members of their group during this time, and others may find it best to get together and do “watch parties” of our live-streams. There are many ways that our Community Group Leaders will serve throughout this process.
We’re also working on several other ways that we can continue to get resources out to you all. Remember...our building is not the church, our gathering is not the church - YOU ARE.
You are still here to be the church to those around you and we are still here to equip you for this work.
A mindset of love
Please don’t forget to give online. Unfortunately, canceled services often mean reduced generosity.
We’ve canceled services out of love, care and concern for one another, but let’s keep giving for the same reason. You can click here to do so.
Our mission isn’t suspended, just our public gathering for a season. We often see an increase in need during times like this and we’re happy to support those needs as you make that possible through your continued giving online. (FYI: you can continue to mail in donations as well)
I can imagine a variety of responses to our stating that until further notice Sunday and other regularly scheduled gatherings are suspended. It was not our first choice and yet, I’m reminded of our call to love found in Romans 14:13-23, perhaps best summarized in verse 19:
So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. -- Romans 14:19
Beyond just food or drink, convictional of preferential issues, this passage speaks directly to the ways that we respond out of either personal preference or love. Paul is not saying that we should be burdened by love for our brothers or sisters, rather that we should be unburdened of our own preference to defer to others. May that be the mark of us all, as followers of Christ, as we pursue being good neighbors.
I recently heard it said that the church functions like this: we hold out hope to others until they are strong enough to hold it for themselves. What a beautiful picture. May God strengthen us through His Holy Spirit for this work, first in our own hearts and then for those He puts in our path to have the privilege of serving.
Chris Jessee, on behalf of
The Leadership of Metro Life Church