COVID-19 and the Church
I pray that this newsletter finds you well. You've all heard it a million times over the past several weeks, but these are definitley strange times that we find ourselves in. As of today, it has been 5 weeks since we've been together for Sunday morning worship. Most, if not all, of our normal routines have been changed and worship routiness are no different. Most churches have turned to the internet as a way of staying in touch and providing a means for worship amongst their attenders. This is a great asset. Just 20 years ago this would not have been possible especially for smaller churches like ours. This does, however, raise a question regarding what it means to be part of a church. Can someone "attend church" on their couch through a computer screen? Is it good enough to focus on "being the church" and not going to church. Does any of this matter or is it just a matter of personal preference?
The reality is that these things do matter. Unfortunately, many well-meaning people have drawn an unnecessary distinction between "being" and "doing" within Christianity. Being a faithful Christian involves both. We are called to "be" which is most often used to described the internal and personal aspect of our faith. "Doing" is then usually used to describe the external aspects of faith (serving others, attending church, Bible study, etc.). During our current stay-at-home order it can feel as if we aren't living faithfully because the "doing" aspect of our faith has been halted. The response for many churches has been to go completely virtual. While this is helpful in the short-term, watching services online can never replace the gathered church. One reason that we do not livestream our services (we record our messages and upload them afterward) is that we do not want to inadvertantly communicate that staying home and watching online is the same as going to church. It can be a great and helpful tool for those times when we aren't able to attend in person, but God's people are called to assemble. When we find ourselves in times like this and it's not wise to gather we do what we can to stay connected and we long for the day when we can physically do so again.
Back to the question of "doing" during COVID-19; how can we serve each other during this pandemic? The number one way we can actively serve one another right now is to pray. We can pray for each other daily. We can also take time to reach out to each other. I admit that I am not good at this. There are many of you that I am in contact with, but others not so much. Please forgive me for this. I do pray often for everyone here at Newman. If you normally attend a bible study, then please consider continuing to do so but do so with video conferencing (Google Hangout, Zoom, Facetime, video calling, etc.) or simply by having a conference call on your phone. We have been having a virtual Sunday School class at 11am on Sunday mornings and everyone is invited.
meeting ID: 416 041 2721
Finally, I want to encourage you. COVID-19 didn't come as a surprise to God. Our lives are probably going to be forever changed as a result of this pandemic, but God hasn't and doesn't change. The world around us is screaming at us, "DON'T PUT YOUR FAITH IN ME!" Sports are cancelled. Concerts are cancelled. Movie theaters are closed. Our economy is suffering. The Stock Market will be affected. News channels have nothing to report on. Our Governor appears on television everyday at 2pm to restate exactly what he said the day before, BUT God is faithful. He is unshaken and we can enjoy the security and confidence that comes with completely trusting in Him alone!
Soli Deo Gloria
Church History and pandemics
One great blessing we have comes in the form of the dear saints that have come before us. We are, by far, not the first group of believers who have been forced to adapt our ministry during pandemics. Below are some great resources and links to articles related to this topic:
Next Sermon Series
Beginning on 4/29/20 I will be starting a long term series in the second half of the book of Isaiah. We will begin in chapter 40. In the next week, please take some time to read ahead and familiarize yourself with Isaiah. Here are som links that might be helpful:
Please pray for me as I prepare this series.