From Your Pastor
I pray this message finds you doing well, both spiritually and physically. I pray you are resting well in God’s good sovereignty, mercy, and grace. The world may be in chaos, but we, the church, have nothing to fear because our God is on the throne. As one of my favorite verses says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV). What a great promise! What a great God! What great encouragement and comfort…
As I said in my last email, the bottom line is this: is there legit cause for concern? Yes… But, should we panic? No! Take heart! God is in control, and He is good… But, though God is sovereign, we are still responsible to do the next right thing. And I have been bombarded with information about what the right thing is to do. As your pastor I always want to do my best to love and lead you well. So, in light of what I’ve learned from other leaders within our convention of churches and the like, here are a few things I encourage you to do and a few things we as a church will be doing differently this Sunday, and perhaps in the weeks to come.
- Exercise everyday preventive actions recommended by the CDC to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website. For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings. These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.
- Take common-sense steps to minimize hand-to-hand contact with other people.Besides regularly washing your hands with soap, “social distancing” is one of the most important and effective ways to slow the spread of disease. So avoid handshakes and hugs for now… Consider other things as well such as pushing and pulling open doors with your foot or a paper towel instead of your hand.
- We will temporarily not be serving coffee and donuts on Sunday mornings. While it is a joy to grab a hot cup of coffee and a donut and catch up with brothers and sisters in Christ, we want to limit transfer from one person to another. Temporarily eliminating our table with coffee and donuts is one simple way we can achieve this.
- We will temporarily refrain from using bulletins. Again, to limit transfer from one person to another we are withholding the areas in which items are being passed through multiple hands.
- We will temporarily refrain from partaking in the Lord’s Supper. We currently celebrate the Lord’s Supper every second and forth Sunday of the month, however we will refrain from doing so for now, unless we find a more sanitary way to partake.
These temporary changes are all areas that will help us in “social distancing” without isolating ourselves. That said, I want to be clear that you should feel no pressure or compulsion at all to attend services this weekend or likely for the next few weeks. In fact, there are many reasons that some should not come. For instance:
- If you develop a fever, shortness of breath, a persistent cough, or other flu-like or respiratory symptoms, do not attend church services until you have been symptom-free for 48-72 hours. This of course applies to children as well. Even if you are quite convinced that all this is “nothing to worry about’ or “overblown”, or even if your theology would somehow lead you to the conclusion that you should come to church even if you’re sick, please humble yourself and stay home if you are exhibiting these symptoms, for the sake of the fellow saints of Cornerstone.
- Determine if you are part of an “at-risk” group as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, and if you are, carefully consider staying home.The CDC defines “at-risk groups” at this website, where they specifically list “older adults” and “people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease.” But I respect your decision to attend or not to attend in this time.
- For those who decide to stay home, we provide a livestream of the service. You can find the livestream at this link.
While I don’t want us to overreact, I also don’t want to jump to the other extreme and be dismissive. And being compassionate and careful in this time is a great way for us to love our neighbors.
I love you all very much, and I want what is best for you, and that’s what God wants as well. Our Father wants what is best for His children. Now, we might not define best the way He does, but whatever He ordains is right. So let’s be responsible, but let’s also be loving, gracious, calm, and levelheaded. Let’s take any desperation we feel to the throne of grace. Let’s be in desperate prayer, not in desperate living.
As I see the way the world is reacting to all of this one verse keeps coming to mind: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)… What a great time for us to display our great hope in Christ to a world that is in such desperation.
May the Lord encourage us and strengthen our faith so that we might shine out as lights in such a dark world.
Christ is all!
Your privileged and unworthy minister and friend,