3/19 Update from the Elders and the Virus Response Team
Dear Providence family & friends,
This note contains some important information & updates from the session and the Virus Response Team (VRT) related to the current pandemic. I know it’s a longer email, but please read it all the way through!
We are certainly witnessing unprecedented times, at least in modern-day America. Plagues and pandemics are not new to humanity. They are something that men, women, and children have been victim to since the introduction of sin and death into our normal experience. Throughout history the church has responded to sickness & death with courage & responsibility. This means that we are not to cower in the face of COVID-19 because we understand that God is in control. But we must also take responsible action in order to love our neighbors, especially those who are the most vulnerable among us.
Things have changed since our last update, among those the guidelines from the President about curbing the advance of Covid-19. Last week the guideline was for groups of 250 or more to suspend meeting. As of Monday, that number had been reduced to 10. This suggestion is in place for 15 days. We as Christians believe that our government officials have been put in place by God to protect the life and the well-being of its citizens.
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Romans 13. 1-2
Now obviously this mandate must be balanced by our obligation to God, the ultimate authority, and His Law. If local authorities demand that we disregard the Law of God in order to obey their mandates, then we are required to defy governments in order that we might obey God. In this matter though, our Governor and President are not asking us to abstain from meeting in order to harm but to protect.
In respecting their oversight, the Elders of Providence have decided to cancel public Lord’s Day worship (as well as Sunday School) at Providence, as well as other activities, until (and including) March 29. On that date, the VRT will meet to assess the situation and provide further direction.
* This means that on the next two Lord’s Days the only people at Providence will be Ethan (running sound), Nick (videoing the service), Sean (playing piano) and either Mike or Julia (leading singing) and me. We are asking all others (without exception) to access the service via livestream (both audio & video will be available) from the link of our church website home page…
* If you are unsure of how to do this, or have had troubles in the past, please contact Ethan Supplee at 484.330.6093!
At our VRT meeting this morning, we also made these recommendations & decisions …
* If you are able, please continue your giving to the church financially by mailing in your offering to the church. For those with giving envelopes, they also serve as mailing envelopes!
* I will soon be posting some resources for you to consider for your spiritual growth & encouragement that are available on the internet.
* We are looking to quickly bring many of our church meetings back on-line thru video-calls, etc. We should have information to you shortly!
* If you have a need, or know of one within our church family who does, please let one of the elders or deacons know of it. We would love to help!
We trust that in all of this you are finding your security in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a story in the gospels of a storm that was overwhelming the disciples. They felt out of control and were very afraid. We find that story in Mark 4.35-41 …
35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
One word from Jesus can calm any & every storm – the storm of a virus, the storm of anxiety, the storm of uncertainty. The disciples wondered if Jesus even cared (see the end of v. 38). But of course He did! For soon He would endure another storm to save them from the waves of God’s wrath – the storm of the cross, as He took our place. Because He endured that storm for us, we now know with certainty that He is with us in every other storm. As Paul writes in Romans 8. 32 …
32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Let’s continue to trust the Lord for the days ahead, whatever they may bring, looking to Him for all that we need, and seeking to make the most of every opportunity to proclaim Jesus!
Standing with you in love,