March 14, 2020
Dear LSCC Family:
As I write this message, fear has gripped our nation and much of the world. You have all seen the images of empty store shelves, long checkout lines, National Guard units deployed to cities across the nation and more as we try to respond to the crisis of COVID-19, the global pandemic that has left almost no part of the world untouched.
Perhaps your retirement accounts, like my own, have been ravaged by the volatile stock market; perhaps you, like Annette, have waited in long supermarket lines for food and other supplies; perhaps you, like me, have scrolled through Facebook feeds full of information and misinformation, unsure how to separate fact from fiction; perhaps you, like me, have been wondering how exactly the church can be the body of Christ in the midst of our current situation.
Before I outline some of our plans for Sunday, March 15, and talk about what I and other leaders in the church are doing in response to the crisis, I want to remind you all of one thing: God is sovereign, and there is no crisis we face that has not passed through His hands. He is no more surprised by this pandemic than He was by others that have come before or even by the crucifixion of His Son.
And in His sovereignty, God reminds us, through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Because we know that our God is sovereign, we can say, along with the psalmist, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul” (Ps 94:19). Whatever happens, friends, remember that our God is greater than it all. Take comfort in Him and do not allow yourselves to be reigned by fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
This week’s services
We WILL be holding our regular church services on Sunday, both Sunday school at 10 a.m. and worship at 11 a.m. Having spoken today with a prominent Christian Suffolk doctor, I have concluded that the risk inherent in group assemblies is small at this point, since we do not have clusters of COVID-19 cases in our area. We would, therefore, love to see you tomorrow. However, if you are sick, or if someone in your home is sick, please do not attend. I plan to stream the worship service this week on Facebook Live. You can find the stream on our Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/LSCCSuffolk. Since we do not have copyright permissions allowing us to stream music, we will begin streaming the service at about 11:20 a.m., after the music is complete.
On Sunday (and always), let’s be sure to practice good hygiene and safe interactions. Elbow bumps and “air-fives” should be substituted for handshakes and hugs. Sneezes and coughs should be covered. We will have soap for proper handwashing in all the bathrooms, and there will be bottles of hand sanitizer throughout the church. Please use them and LEAVE THEM.
We have received a donation of cleaning supplies certified by the FDA to kill the coronavirus and certified to be safe to use around food preparation surfaces, and we will have a crew at the church first thing in the morning to sanitize and disinfect all the handles and doorknobs throughout the building. The same thing will be done at the end of the day. Even with those actions, it’s still a good idea to use a paper towel or something similar when opening doors. On a related note, we will not be passing offering plates tomorrow. Instead, we will have them on a table at the front of the sanctuary, and you can drop you offerings in them either before or after the service.
Both of the ministries we have planned for the week — the CPC Baby Shower and the CAPS Night Stay program — will continue as planned. This is not the time for the church to draw in on itself; now, more than ever, our faith in the One who gives eternal life can shine in great contrast to the fear that consumes the world. We will be wise in the way we do this — taking extra efforts to ensure a clean facility and a safe environment — but we must not fail to do the work that our Savior gave us to do. I spoke to the doctor regarding the Night Stay program, in particular, and he agreed that this is a commitment we should honor. We can do so without undue risk, and so we will honor that commitment.
Unfortunately it is unlikely that we will be allowed to make our Autumn Care visit this month, so I will contact our liaison there to determine how else we might serve them. We will address the other ministries in which we are involved in the coming days and weeks.
After Sunday’s service, I will be meeting with your deacons to discuss these and other matters related to the COVID-19 outbreak. During that meeting, I expect that we will talk about how we might address the issues of corporate worship in the weeks to come, as well as how Liberty Spring Christian Church will take advantage of the opportunity the Lord has given us to be salt and light in the context of a nation in the midst of a pandemic. I ask that you be in prayer for us, that God would give us HIS wisdom and help us to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we seek to do His will.
Finally, I want to encourage you to be praying for your neighbors, for our nation’s leadership, for the medical community, for all those who have become or might become infected with the virus and for the lost world that desperately needs the healing that only our Savior can provide. And please pray for me and the other spiritual leaders of your church; Satan is working hard to undermine the faith of Christians across the globe, and we are not immune to his attacks.
In the words of J. Vernon McGhee, may God richly bless you, my beloved.