God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
I’m not the guy who typically worries about germs, getting sick, or being out and about during flu season. I claim no special status for being this way; this is how my parents raised me and I’ve had the good fortune of being healthy for most of my life.
But I can also recognize when this personal tendency is not what is best for society. This past week, with the local and regional cancellation of professional conferences, sporting events, music concerts, cultural events, and live classes in universities, it feels like we’ve reached a tipping point with coronavirus (COVID-19) in our area. Even Saint Patrick’s day parades were cancelled in Dublin, and in Italy, gathering for church services has been temporarily banned! (File that under “you know it’s bad when…”).
So what’s our response to the coronavirus pandemic? First, I would speak a word for responding with level-headed calm. A panic response is rarely helpful. Learn what you can about coronavirus and its prevention; there are a number of health care workers in our congregation who can provide accurate information. One helpful website is coronavirus.gov. Second, take appropriate precautions. If you are in a high risk group, then please be careful to limit contact with others. All of us should diligently practice good personal hygiene, including the use of hand sanitizer. Health officials are recommending that instead of hugs and handshakes, we offer each other elbow bumps or fist bumps. Third, if you are feeling ill, please stay home. Do reach out and let us know how we can care for you; but please use caution if you are not feeling well.
As a body of Christ-followers, we understand that our ultimate peace and confidence lie in the Lord, who is our refuge. We are planning to continue meeting, unless the state bans public gatherings of large groups. We will make accommodations with the Lord’s supper, moving to individualized and sealed communion wafers and cups for the time being. We’re also working on accommodations for the offering. We’ll continue to monitor the situation. Thank you for working with us to make the best of challenging circumstances.
I believe that during uncertain times, the light of faith, hope, and love we continue to shine is most important than ever. May God sustain each of us with good health and may we care for one another as Christ has so beautifully modeled for us.