How are you all doing? Are you still remembering to breath and stay calm or are you in panic stations, wondering whether the world as we know it is about to end? My guess is that quite understandably there is a bit of both for most people. Let me start by reminding you that God is still on the throne, He has not been caught out by Covid-19, His grace and mercy is still available to you, His blessings are new this morning just as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow. I realise that everyone both with or without a faith will be assessing what this crisis is going to mean for their jobs, their families, everyone’s health and the means to be able to meet responsibilities but the truth is that everyone is exactly the same boat. As Christians we are entering a ‘mind the gap’ season where what we say (and have sung) we believe about our God is going to be tested – Is our faith in Him or is it not? Can we trust His promises or not? My belief is that it is exactly our response to that question that will shape the church of Jesus Christ for the next generation. So how can we respond to all the fear and questions that the whole world has in the best way possible and can we by our love for each other show the world that Jesus is exactly who He says he is.
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
John 13:34-35 The Message (MSG)
I know that you will be looking to the church leadership to bring guidance in this season and with the Sunday services being suspended for the foreseeable future we are looking at new ways of remaining an effective family. The truth is however that currently the situation and advice is changing daily so any detailed plans we make need to be held lightly. So for now, what we have decided to do is make our plans one week at a time. This week we have asked the life groups to meet in homes where practical (making appropriate hygiene and space/social distance precautions). If you are a member of a home group then your leader should be getting in contact in the next couple of days to let you know the arrangements for this. If your group is not meeting or you are not part of a group then you are welcome to join Julie and myself at the church for a cup of tea and a chat at 9-30am for an hour or so. With this arrangement please be sensible, if you are not feeling well or are particularly vulnerable to the virus, please do not attend any group.
The Oversight team are meeting on Saturday morning in order to discuss further strategies for the longer term. We will be looking at how we still have community, prayer, worship and especially pastoral care in a season where contact is encouraged to be minimal. Already many resources have been suggested as to how we might do this and we will of course consider all avenues. We will write again next week to update you on our next steps.
A number of you have been in contact to ask how you can help – some with specific skills and others more generally. In due course we will be asking all of you to let us know your availability to assist as we seek to serve each other and our wider community. For some this may be as simple as committing to pray and for others it may be offering to shop for those who are house bound etc. The following are some immediate ways that we can all help in the next week or two.
- PRAY – Pray for the politicians, the health workers, your employers, and all those making decisions that will impact each other. Pray that the Lord would be merciful as this virus spreads. Pray that people would turn to God in this season and that we – His Church – would be part of the solution and not the problem.
- LOVE – It is by our love for each other that the world will know we are his disciples so share what you have, call and text each other, particularly those who are isolated or alone. Be generous, smile, be considerate, learn new ways to show you care for those you can.
- HOPE – Show the hope you have in Christ, the world is scared right now – people need to hear that there is hope so be that hope. Be careful how much you participate with social media – speak life into people and not doom!
Finally, I know it’s hard to see this just now but the Church of Jesus was made for this season. CBBC is uniquely placed to shine in the coming months as we have already spent the time looking at how to love and care, how the early church did it in Acts and how it did it again in the book of Romans. We have been in training for the past few years, let’s put all we know into practice and shine brightly as we seek to bring the hope of Jesus into our community.