March 26, 2020
We are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus has become a pandemic, threatening health for the seven billion people who live in our world. Significant portions of our domestic economy are deeply hurting. Values of investments and stocks have plummeted. Life is no longer “usual.” For example, I just received a stay at homeorder for Jefferson County (with exemptions for essential business or government services) to begin today at 8AM. This includes all means of travel!
I think immediately of Isaiah’s words “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Our faith is a personal relationship with the living God. In Jesus Christ we have a peace that passes understanding. Our lives are not defined by how many accomplishments we have, or how much money we make or even how healthy we are. We are made in the image of God, forgiven in the cross-work of Jesus Christ. This is what provides our identity.
God’s ways are far above our ways. Someone said to me one time, “Do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” There is wisdom to this. My wife and I just returned from a ministry enrichment event called Sonscape. This was a transformational event that called us forward to deep change. However, the day after returning I decided (alongside elder team input) to suspend the balance of my sabbatical and to give myself to the unique challenges and opportunities of this pandemic. God laughed at my plans, but He has plans that go far beyond immediate challenges or circumstances.
As you may know, in accordance with the Center for Disease Control, we discontinued use of our church building for some eight weeks. We are not (currently) meeting in God’s building. However, we are the people of God placed in this generation for such a time as this. We seek to use this time and occasion to be faithful in “inviting neighbors to find a home in Christ together.” This will involve personally finding our home in Christ. I am learning about how to deeply connect with Jesus and I believe this time is a unique opportunity for all of us to do just that.
I trust you are receiving our weekend worship content (sent by email and on our website) for personal and family worship. I would like also to invite you to connect with my blog posts, also available on our website. I have been generating weekly reports on how I am connecting with God through Jesus, and these may be an encouragement to you. Also, in the month of April we plan on supplementing our recorded messages and worship material with a Facebook livestream. I plan on being “live” Saturday, April 4 at 5:00 PM.
On the subject of giving, the good news is we remain on budget pace for our fiscal year. We have had generous giving that put us ahead of giving projections and has allowed us to absorb shortfalls for the last few weekends. Financial reserves are in place for the equivalent of two months of expenses. The bad news is we do not have use of God’s building, at least for now. Giving over the past two weekends has dropped significantly. I have asked our Treasurer, Bruce Chaffer, to provide a comprehensive update on this important matter and such communique will come to you in short order.
Do we face challenges? Yes. Are our human resources limited? Yes. These are acknowledged. However, our God is alive and is not surprised by this. He is our sufficiency, and He is able!