by: Philip Williams
Dear West Church Family,
“Because of the present crisis, I think it is good for you to remain as you are.” 1 Corinthians 7:26
It’s no coincidence that we have been reflecting on 1 Corinthians together lately. The Holy Spirit has been preparing us, before we were even aware, that there would be a “present crisis.” Of course, in context, Paul was referring to a Christian’s marital status in light of the crisis they were facing in Corinth at that time. It could have been famine or persecution. We do not know. Even so, he encouraged his brothers and sisters with these words: “I think it is good for you to remain as you are.”
So then, because of the present crisis we are facing as a community of faith, let us remain as we are: full of faith, hope and love.
How will we practice our faith in light of the present crisis?
On March 15th, Governor Baker signed an order prohibiting public gatherings of over 25 people throughout the Commonwealth, including faith-based events. This order is in effect through April 5th (Palm Sunday). God has been preparing us for this. As we have learned through 1 Corinthians, we will restrain our freedom to gather for the sake of the health and wellbeing of others. Therefore, effective Sunday March 22nd, we will be migrating to online worship services only by livestream. We will communicate instructions as to how you can access our worship services on your computer or handheld device. We can also continue to exercise our faith in worship by giving our offerings to God. Many of us, including me, already regularly contribute a portion of our income to the church electronically. You can sign up for online giving at westchurch.org/giving. Or, if you prefer to continue giving manually, you can send your offering by mail or drop it off at the church during office hours. Our other ministry programs will also be temporarily adjusted in order to remain in compliance with the governor’s orders that limit public gatherings to 25 people. All on campus group meetings that regularly meet at the church are canceled for the time being. You may still choose to meet at someone’s home; however, we encourage you to find ways interact virtually instead at this time. Our staff and ministry leaders are currently developing ways to resource our ministries through online tools. The best place to find updates regarding our many ministry areas is our WestConnect e-newsletter and our church website. If your questions are not addressed there, please feel free to contact your small group leader, team leader or a staff member for more information.
How will we practice hope in light of the present crisis?
We are not going to give in to fear, selfishness and the hoarding of resources. God is still on His throne. He is our help in ages past and our ever-present hope for years to come. He will never leave us or forsake us. In this cultural moment God is asking us to trust in Him for our provision, protection and care. This will enable us to be willing to share our resources with those who are in need, including those impacted by the effects of social distancing policies and those who may become sick. Remember, becoming a Christian does not mean that we will never experience things like sickness and death, but it does mean we no longer have to live in fear. And Jesus has “set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” (Hebrews 2:15)
How will we practice love in light of the present crisis?
Last year we did a series called The Art of Neighboring. This year we get to practice it. Last week we were able to go to church. This week, and in the weeks to come, we get to be the church. Give your neighbors your contact information. Make sure they have basic supplies available to them. If they are elderly, or have a serious underlying health condition, or are under quarantine, offer to pick up a meal for them at a restaurant, or go to the grocery store for them. Or how about, when you are in the grocery store, let the other person have the last loaf of bread. Over the next few weeks, we are going to have unique opportunities to share our faith and hope through simple acts of love to those in our immediate community. Ask God to help you notice ways you can demonstrate his love to people in our community and when He does, love others as you have been loved by God.
This too shall pass. But because of the present crisis, I think it is good for you to remain as you are: full of faith, hope and love. May God bless you and keep you, may He make his face to shine upon you and be gracious toward you. May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).