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Christ Pres COVID-19 Update #2

Christ Pres Family,

     As the information we are learning about this pandemic and the recommendations from our national and state leaders have changed, it is with great reluctance, but also with great faith, that the elders and I have decided to suspend all in-person gatherings for Christ Presbyterian Church for four (4) weeks.  We will re-evaluate this decision after Easter and hope to be able to resume our corporate gatherings after that time.  

     This decision was not made lightly, without prayer, or out of fear, but out of a sincere desire to follow the Lord in caring for this flock that we love.  None of us wants to stop gathering together for worship; we love this church!  Sunday mornings are the highlight of my week.  We also take seriously the instruction in the book of Hebrews not to neglect meeting together.  However, based on the best medical advice we could find, both from public health experts and local doctors, this is the best means we have of caring for those under our care, as well as our community as a whole, and we also have to take seriously those responsibilities.

     That doesn’t mean that we stop being the church, though.  In fact, our prayer for the church is that the Lord would use this time to help us to continue to grow in our faith and to appreciate the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ even more.  In a time when we are all being asked to be more and more isolated, we are going to focus as a church on caring for each other well, and on how the church is bigger than we normally get to see, even when we are all gathered together.

     How will we do that?  The first way is by joining with the greater church on Sunday mornings, virtually.  Each Sunday, we can continue to worship the Lord together as a church while also joining with brothers and sisters we wouldn’t normally get to worship with, by live-streaming a service from a different ARP church.  I will provide the link to a different ARP church’s live-stream via our church website (www.christgrovecity.org) and via email to those on the church’s email list.  Please let me know if you would like to be added to the email list.

     This will feel odd.  It’s supposed to.  As God’s people, we’re created for community, and one of the chief ways we experience that community is as we gather for weekly worship and the sacraments.  My prayer is that the Lord’s Supper will taste all the more sweet once we can finally enjoy it together again.  But in the meantime, one way to help with the feeling of disconnect that comes from streaming a service from another location is to participate in the service as much as you can.  If there is music, sing along.  If there is a corporate time of prayer, pray along.  Gather together with your family just as you would when worshiping in person, and sing and pray together.  Families, if you are comfortable with it, reach out to single people in the congregation and invite them to worship with you - keeping the number to fewer than 10 people, per government recommendations.  Single people in the congregation, reach out to a family and ask if you can worship with them.  We don’t have to forego all interaction during this time, but we do need to be wise. 

     In order to care for one another and continue to be the church for one another during this period of social isolation, remember to reach out to others in the church to ask how you can be praying for them.  If you are comfortable meeting in small groups to pray together and/or to encourage one another from the Word, do so.  Consider praying with people over the phone, text, or video-messaging.  We have some very creative people in our church, and some people who know a lot more about what technologies are available for communicating and meeting than I do.  Get creative and be proactive in exercising those “one-another” commands in Scripture during this time.  We’re all going to need it.

     Please be sure also to let us know how we can be praying for and serving you during this time.  Keep your shepherding elder informed about your family’s needs.  If you’re not sure who your shepherding elder is, let me know.  Everyone has their own regular prayer needs alongside other concerns during this time, and we want to be faithful in lifting those up before our faithful Father in prayer.  Please also let us know how the church can be serving you in practical ways during this time.  If you need help getting groceries, need a ride to the hospital, need financial help while your job is paused, need to talk to a counselor, whatever it is, let us know, and we will do our best to help.

     Finally, I will be providing links to free resources for ongoing discipleship on the church website (www.christgrovecity.org).  Check back from time to time for great content to help you to continue to grow in your personal walk with the Lord.  The devotional through the Psalms that was handed out at the end of last year and the beginning of this year is also a great and comforting resource, if you haven’t looked at that lately.  I still have a few copies; if you need one, let me know.

     Brothers and sisters, let us neither give into fear nor apathy.  Historically, epidemics have been a time when the church has shown great trust in the Lord and great love for her neighbors, and the Lord has often blessed the church with growth in the aftermath of an epidemic.  Let us practice bold love for each other and our neighbors, trusting in the Lord in this time to provide for and to continue to grow His church.  I was reminded recently of the truth of Psalm 103:12-19, that we are just as mortal as we have ever been, and that the Lord is just as sovereign and compassionate as He has ever been.  It’s times like these that help us really to appreciate truths we might sometimes take for granted.

With our prayers,

Pastor Jonathan (on behalf of the session)

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