Saturday, March 14, 2020
As you are aware, the spread of COVID-19 is increasing throughout the United States. The United States is at the early stages of the virus spreading, and it is likely to get worse before it gets better. Consider the spread of the virus as a bell curve—the US is on the left side of the bell curve, and cases of this will likely grow exponentially before the spread begins to decline.
Our goal is always to point to lives that glorify and enjoy God, forever. This kind of life is found in loving God and loving our neighbors. Such love demands that we take precautions to protect our neighbors, particularly the most vulnerable.
According to the CDC, those most vulnerable to COVID-19 include older adults and those with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. There is an increased danger to the immunocompromised. Even if we are not in these categories, loving God and loving our neighbor demands that we take steps to protect them as we would ourselves.
So what does this look like?
At our local level, the Reno County Health Department has recommended limiting public events to under 100 persons. We take seriously our commitment to love our neighbor and to submit to governing authorities. They aren’t asking us not to meet but recommending we consider our gathering together for the good of our community, so we’ll embrace this recommendation.
Therefore, we will have NO SUNDAY ACTIVITIES on March 15, 2020. The livestream will run at 10:15 and Pastor Phil will begin preaching pretty quickly after it begins. He’d love to have you join him online. Here are sermon notes, a guide to help your children listen to the sermon, and a Sunday School lesson for children you could walk through with your family. We were also going to begin teaching the song King of Kings to our body this weekend, so follow that link to the lyric video. Speaking of music, The Gospel Coalition has a playlist available called Songs of Comfort for Anxious Souls. And, this prayer called A Liturgy for Those Flooded by Too Much Information might be encouraging. Of course, you can give online or drop any offering monies in the mail or when we gather for Women’s Bible or CrestviewKids/Students.
We DO plan to finish up Women’s Bible Study this week. They gather on Tuesday 9AM and 4:30PM, as well as Wednesday at 6:30PM.
Further, at this point, we DO still plan on having CrestviewKids and Youth Group on Wednesday at 6:30PM. If you get news that the Hutchinson School District is cancelling classes, then we will use this as our cue to not gather our children and students on Wednesday.
We also DO plan to have Men’s Ensemble practice at 7:30 PM this Wednesday (and the following two Wednesdays). Men will be performing on Palm Sunday. It would be best if you can read 4-part music.
They recommend practical things like this (that would also apply to our smaller gatherings):
1) Stay home if you are sick (or exposed to sickness).
If you are sick (fever, cough, colored nasal discharge), please stay at home until you have gone 48 hours symptom-free (without using drugs to control them). No one will judge you for staying home. Guarding the health of your neighbor is a way of loving them and God.
2) Touchless greetings.
Instead of shaking hands, please greet each other verbally.
3) Sanitized hands.
We will likely encourage everyone to wash up as they come in for these activities to limit the spread of germs.
4) Minimize restroom and drinking fountain use.
Public bathrooms are one of the places where viruses thrive and spread. Experts warn against using public restrooms unless necessary and to be extra cautious about washing your hands after using a public restroom. If you do use the restrooms, please ensure thorough handwashing (30+ seconds with soap). Cups and water are available in the kitchen.
On top of these practical measures, we’d also recommend these things, by way of encouraging your soul in these days:
1) Listen to sound advice and use your best judgment.
We understand and respect that opinions vary about COVID-19 responses. If you feel that meeting at all is unwise or unsafe for you or your family, please remain home. Each weekend, we’ll make some content available online through our livestream. You can consider the music, give, and take advantage of teaching at home (as we reflected above). We want to continue to serve you in moments like this. And, if you have a prayer request or something you need to communicate to us, email email@example.com, an elder, or a deacon.
2) Talk to your children (and one another) about COVID-19 and the Gospel.
This time can be scary for children as they hear things at school, from peers, and on the news. An informed parent or grandparent who welcomes questions and conversation will be a source of great comfort. There are useful articles to help you online (a simple search will yield many options).
This moment is an excellent opportunity to remind our children (and ourselves) that God demonstrates his love for us in the good news that because of Jesus, God is for us. The Lord is our Helper, we will not fear.
Tell your children why we are taking these precautions, why such precautions are an act of trust in God (not fear), and how they flow from a love for God and a love for our neighbors. Instead of instilling fear, invite them to join you in cultivating a wise, loving, and vigilant culture.
3) Extend Christian patience and understanding.
Again, opinions vary widely. We might have people saying things online that we disagree with in the most aggressive ways. Now is not the time for mocking others’ fears, political posturing, or harsh indifference to the concerns of our neighbors.
There is much we are continuing to learn about the current situation. But we do know that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Such is the proper response to our neighbors both in the church and the world. It is a time for love—which, just like our Savior, is willing to lay aside its rights and preferences for the good of others.
Our care to prevent the spread of a coronavirus is an act of compassion through which we can share the Gospel.
4) View these events as an opportunity to trust in and proclaim our God.
God is not absent in this moment that we are in. He’s very much at work. He might be drawing us away from ourselves and giving us a chance to look to Him. He may have countless other things that He’s up to. Don’t fall into the temptation that this is simply something of this world. Remember your God in these days. (Consider the following verses in this regard: Romans 8:20, 22-23, 28; Isaiah 45:7; Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 11:33,36.)
We love each of you and thank you for your cooperation, your love for Christ and one another.
Jesus is our King and we remain…
Yours in Christ,