As the week has progressed, the concern about the effects and prevention of the coronavirus have grown rapidly. As I sit here in our hotel room on vacation, my email and social media feeds continue to fill up with a variety of responses, from no concern to hysteria. We, as Christian, need not fear and be driven by anxiety because death does not scare us (Phil 1:21), but we must be thoughtful and, more importantly, prayerful about our responses (Phil 4:4-7). It is no surprise that measures are being put into place quickly, considering the wealth of information we now have since the virus was first reported. “Social distancing” has been the term to describe the best effort to slow down the spread of the virus. This term is odd for the church as we feel convicted and compelled to do all we can to be in each others’ lives, spiritually and physically. Though true, we have to be cautious while never letting go of our unshakeable faith in God.
This is not the first time the Church has faced a pandemic. In 1918 when the Spanish Flu took many lives in DC, local churches heeded the call of the experts and governmental authorities and complied with the ban of public gatherings (read here). We are not currently at that point in our community, but we should expect interruptions in our daily lives. For instance, my daughter’s softball league and my son’s soccer league are suspended, which means two unhappy children, but they understand. These interruptions, though inconvenient, should not steal our joy because our hope will never be destroyed. The leadership team and I will continue to monitor the situation alongside the many brothers and sisters in our community. Below are a couple of things I want to encourage us all to do and consider as the coming weeks unfold the longterm effects of the coronavirus:
- Take all necessary precautions–I encourage you to read the CDC’s suggestions and follow them regularly (read here). Light in the Desert Church has and will continue to provide soap and hand sanitizer, and will be there earlier Sunday to sanitize surfaces that are heavily touched. Individually, the washing of hands has the most significant impact on preventing and slowing down the transmission of diseases among those who live in close communities (just read Leviticus!). Simply washing your hands often, avoiding touching your face, avoiding close contact with other people, and staying home if you are sick, are the best precautions you can take. Also, the CDC warns that “Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.” Understanding that and considering the demographic of our congregation, those of us who are younger will do all we can to look after and care for our older brothers and sisters by not unnecessarily putting them at risk. So we will limit our greeting time and ask that we give nods and hellos for greetings. We will continue to gather on Sundays, but understand that everything is day by day as we get more information.
- Think critically about faith, sin, and salvation–Christian people should be a thinking people. With ever success or tragedy, it is wise for us to consider what those things tell us about ourselves, sin, God, salvation, and heed God’s wisdom found in scripture. Thankfully and by God’s grace, many articles have already been circulating that do just that (see below). What is most apparent in times like this? Life is fragile, so it matters what you put your trust in (Ps 90:12, 103:15-16, 1 Peter 1:24-25). The Psalmist states that “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Ps 20:7). Unfortunately, we tend to put more trust in health, stability, comfort, sanitizer, procedures, and a host of other things, so when that is interrupted or taken away, we come to grips with what has a grip on us. Church family, take this opportunity to think about where you draw your greatest strength.
- Pray, Pray, Pray–Though this is listed last, it is not the least important. Paul told the church in Philippians not to be anxious but to pray (Phil 4:6)! That is our highest duty to each other and our community. Pray for:
- Our church family
- Those already affected
- The salvation of our city
- Opportunities to serve and share the hope of Jesus Christ
- The leaders of our city and state
Brothers and sisters, our community, our city, our state, our country, and our world need us to cry out to God for all to see that Jesus is God’s greatest answer to our greatest pandemic; sin. Yes, we need to ask God for help to alleviate suffering, we need to ask for the virus to slow down, we need to ask for wisdom in how to respond, but we must ask for Jesus to be seen, to be noticed in our unshakable faith, and ultimately to be trusted.
Grace and Peace,