Coronavirus Update 3/17/20
Dear Congregation of Christ Church,
No doubt all of us are feeling the strain of living in this strange and difficult time. While living through a pandemic is a new experience for each of us, we must remember that this is not new to God, who is Lord over all his creation.
These trying times are testing us in ways we never imagined, and we find ourselves needing to make difficult decisions out of love for our neighbor. It is with great sorrow that I write to inform you that the session of Christ Church Ann Arbor has voted to suspend public worship for the next 3 Sundays, including Palm Sunday, April 5th. We will then re-evaluate this temporary measure based on the best information available to us.
Several factors lead to this decision:
- The office of the governor has ordered that no gatherings larger than 50 people shall take place until April 5th. We believe that as believers, we can and should submit to the civil authorities God has ordained for us (Romans 13:1). Please keep in mind that we are not being silenced by the government, these measures are temporary. We will gather again publicly as the people of God.
- The CDC has also recommended that that people not gather in groups larger than 10.
- The White House has advised us to avoid groups larger than 10 people for the next 15 days.
- We are called to love our neighbor, both within and outside the church (Mark 12:31). Jesus tells us that we are known as his disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:24). If we gather and the infection spreads as a result, we put our neighbor’s health at risk.
While it’s not possible to replace corporate worship, there are several steps we will be taking to a blessing and encouragement to you. These include:
- Weekly individual / family worship devotional guide
- A live-streamed devotional message
- Our leaders will be contacting you see how we can both pray for you and be of help to you during this time
Also, I will be live-streaming a weekly devotional message. In addition, our Ruling Elders will be in contact with everyone to pray and ensure your needs as a church, both physical and spiritual, are being met during this time. If you, or any of your neighbors, family, and friends need help do to self-isolation. Please let the session and deacons know so that we might find a way to help.
Finally, I will do my best to offer you pastoral care. I leave you with this word for now:
Psalm 137 was written as a Psalm of exile. The people of God are being carried into captivity in Babylon. It is a psalm of lament as reflected in the opening words:
“By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres.” (Psalm 137:1–2, ESV)
The lament was that the people could not gather and worship together before the presence of the Lord as they once had. I believe that at least for the next several weeks, we are in a similar situation. We will experience the loss of meeting together to worship our Lord and Savior. As such, our reaction will be something like that of our Old Testament brethren. This is a time to lament, a time to weep, a time for sorrow.
But even as Israel was led into captivity, there was still a hope, for God had promised to lead his people back to Jerusalem. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10, ESV)
Brothers and sisters, Judah’s hope is our hope. As the Lord’s ransomed people, we shall return to our Zion with singing. We will worship again, after a little while, and our sorrow and sighing will flee away in the presence of our King, Jesus Christ.
So let us then endeavor to not forgot who we are and why we gather to worship. We read in Psalm 137:7-6: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”
I am praying for you all during this time. Together, in Christ, we will come through this pandemic, and when we do, we will glorify the name of the Lord together who has done great things. In the meantime, please watch your inbox, as well as social media, for further updates which will be coming later this week with details for live-streams, devotional materials, remote tithing/giving, and mercy opportunities.
May the peace of Christ be with you all,
Pastor Jeremy and your elders