It’s been a busy couple of days as we’ve been considering how to best function as a church community in light of all of the challenges that COVID-19 has created! The virus and the subsequent upending of all of the normal rhythms of life, the constant bombardment of information on it, and being forced to sit and wait to see what unfolds can definitely create an environment where it is easy for worry and anxiety to spread.
This morning I was reflecting on the many ways that God proves his faithfulness to his people in the midst of hardship and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the message of the book of Esther (you can find those messages here). God never even “shows up” in the book. In it the people of God were thrust into circumstances that were spinning out of control, getting worse by the day, and it seemed like all hope was lost. Yet, in the midst of all of it all, we can see the quiet hand of our Sovereign God working in the deposing of a queen (Esther 1), the beauty of a young woman (Esther 2), the roll of a dice (Esther 3:7), and a sleepless night (Esther 6:1). Even when God can’t be seen, Esther declares to us that our God reverses calamity and powerfully acts on behalf of his people.
It reminds me of the words of Jesus in Luke 12:22-34. I would encourage you to read that whole section, but I want to focus on verse 32. In the midst of anxiety around life (v.25), and our physical needs (v.22) Jesus makes this statement:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
Jesus – Luke 12:32
Jesus is inviting his followers, his little flock, to live outside the grip of fear. It’s an invitation that he makes to the weak and powerless, they are little. It’s an invitation he makes to the defenseless and vulnerable, they are a flock of sheep with no defenses of their own. It’s an invitation that is anchored on the lavish and glad generosity of God toward them. They can live without fear because they have a Father. They are known, accepted, loved and cared for. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, God is eternally and relentless for us! There is nothing for our good that he will hold back from his children (See Psalms 40:11-12; Romans 8:31-39)
If you are struggling with fear yourself, breathe deeply of the words of Jesus and let them take root in your heart. If you aren’t struggling with it, take a moment to pray for those in our church family and community that might be. We are all in this together.
In a time where there is increasing isolation, what is our plan moving forward together?
Rather than replace our Sunday morning service with a live stream or something similar, we are going to lean into our Missional Communities and ask them to be the primary expression of who we are as a church for the time being. Practically, that means the following:
- This week I will be sending out another study similar to the one I sent out last week.If you didn’t work through last weeks you can find it here. My hope is that the study for this week will remind us of what it really means to be a church, and how this situation we are in is an opportunity to deepen our experience with that.
- Beginning on March 29thwe are asking our Missional Communities to begin meeting on a weekly basis. Some of them may meet on Sunday mornings, some may choose to meet at another time. Whenever you meet, we are asking each group to honor the mandates given to us by Governor Brown, and considering the individual circumstances of each group, to do what you can to minimize exposure. We are equipping each of our MC’s with the ability to video-conference and some groups may choose to meet exclusively virtually.
- We will be providing materials to each group so that we can all be studying God’s word together.Our unity isn’t around a Sunday Service, it is around Jesus Christ, and we believe focusing on him together is one of the things God uses to grow us, to strengthen our oneness, and expand our impact for the gospel. Ephesians 4:1-16 speaks to that specifically.
- Our desire is to care for the needs we have within the church and empower each of you to minister to others in Jesus’ name.If there are needs that you have, and your MC is unable to meet them, you can let us know about those here. If you are willing to serve others during this time, please let our deacons know by signing up here.
What if I’m not part of a Missional Community?
This is a great time to get involved! We currently have 12 groups and we will be adding two more that will operate during this season. They will begin meeting the week of March 29th so if you want to be involved, please contact the church office at 503-472-9197.
I am looking forward with anticipation to how God is going to use this to strengthen us as a church! Please feel free to contact us with any questions.