As we navigate the realities of the coronavirus, First Pres has responded by following health officials’ guidelines to close our building to all groups of 10 or more. Pastor Jon wants to encourage you to be the church in the midst of the challenges.
As of today and through the end of the month, Session has decided to close our campus to gatherings of more than 10 people. The Church has always been more than buildings, so the Church is still very much in business. Indeed, if ever there were a time for the Church to be the Church, it is now. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and his command to love Him with all that we are and our neighbor as ourselves is the same, even if how we do that looks a little different for a season. In figuring out how to live in this time, the Lord has given us His Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the ages, for while this is a new context for us, it isn’t new for the Church. To this end, I want to urge you to do three things over the next few weeks as the rhythm of life changes.
First, I want you to “devote.” Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are. Our mission statement as a Church includes the line “loving Christ Jesus.” So, take some of the time that has freed up in your schedule to seek the Lord in prayer and devotion. Tune into the online worship experiences we will send out, and share them, too. Read more of your Bible, both on your own and as families. Check out the devotional resources we recommend (firstpreshbg.org/online). And pray. Pray on your own and gather in groups of less than 10 to intercede for our world right now.
Secondly, I want you to love your neighbor. You do this both by telling them about Jesus or “boldly proclaiming truth” as our mission statement puts it. You also do it by looking for ways to meet practical needs. Practical needs include things as simple as a phone call as people are lonely or a run to the grocery store.
Finally, I want to urge you to rest. I was struck last week in preaching on Psalm 91 and Mark 4 at the theme of rest. Psalm 91:1 starts with the words, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Similarly, in Mark 4 we see Jesus “sleeping” in the midst of the storm. Rest is what many of us need, and rest is a powerful demonstration of our trust in the Lord.
This weekend, our online worship experience (available Sunday morning) will be built around Luke 12:22-34 as part of our “Fear Not” series. In closing, I draw your attention to Luke 12:32 where Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Friends, fear not, but seek his kingdom and know God is pleased to give it to you.