Dear Colleyville Family,
It has not been quite the restful Spring Break I had hoped for! I’ve spent the past several days in the office in communication with our Session and church staff and other leadership, all the time monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus.
As you may have heard, today Tarrant County declared a state of emergency and is recommending that all public gatherings be cancelled if possible.
Our Session had yesterday already made the decision to suspend all church activities and events outside of Sunday worship before this announcement by Tarrant County was made.
But now that we have received this recommendation from our governing authority, our Session has also very reluctantly decided to suspend worship this Sunday, March 15.
Please know that this decision was not made lightly, and not without much prayer and discussion. I am very aware that some of you may feel that this is an overreaction on our part, and to be honest, it may be.
But, based on the information we have at the moment, it seems the wisest thing to do, and our Session is unified in this decision to suspend gathered worship this Sunday. Along these lines, I will be sending you an additional email tomorrow with some suggestions regarding how you might set apart the Lord’s Day in your homes this Sunday.
For myself, one of the guiding principles as I have sought to lead our congregation over the past several days is what our Westminster Larger Catechism teaches regarding the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not murder” – Exodus 20:13.
Our Larger Catechism states that the Sixth Commandment, among other things, requires: “all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others” and that this commandment also forbids: “the neglecting…of necessary means of preservation of life.”
Our decision to suspend all non-worship church activities, and at least for this Sunday, to suspend Lord’s Day gathered worship, is a decision that is meant to honor the Sixth Commandment, and to hopefully play a role in our community’s ability to protect human life, especially the lives of those who are most at risk from this virus – the elderly, and those with underlying health concerns.
Whatever else you may think of the current local and national response to the Coronavirus, it has been deeply encouraging for me to see all kinds of different people (believers and unbelievers) work together to make difficult decisions to hopefully help protect some of the most vulnerable men and women in our society from death. That, it seems to me, is a profoundly Christian impulse, and we should give thanks for it.
Pastor Patrick and I have been working over the last few days to identify the members of our church community who fit into this more vulnerable category. Over the next day or so, we will be seeking to make phone contact with each of you, to assess your present needs, and discern how our deacons and our congregation as a whole can assist you during this time. If you have particular health or practical concerns related to the current situation, and you don’t hear from us in the next day or so, please don’t hesitate to call or text me or Patrick.
This is likely to be a challenging few weeks or even months for all of us. Some of us are concerned about our own health. Some of us are concerned about the health of others whom we love. Many of us, I am sure, are concerned about the profound economic impact that this current crisis may have for our families. Many of us are anxious about events which feel outside of our control.
I understand all those concerns, and I share them.
But I am also deeply hopeful about the current crisis in our society. I am hopeful that this will be a time when our church, and others who share our Christian faith, can be a distinct witness in a society that is afraid.
I am hopeful that we will be able, by the help of the Spirit, in the coming weeks and months, to demonstrate what it means to live as those who, above all things, bear witness to a Risen Savior.
I am hopeful that our communion with the Risen Christ will enable us to not only face financial loss or the threat of grave sickness without fear, but to also love and serve our neighbors as well.
I do not know exactly what the Lord is up to with this global pandemic that we find ourselves in the midst of.
But I know that our situation is something our God is sovereign over, and he is surely up to something, and it would be just his way to use a terrible situation like this to turn the hearts of men and women to himself in repentance and faith, and to show his love and mercy to us all in ways that we do not presently anticipate. That indeed, is exactly what I am praying for.
Remember, beloved: You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. And when the Christ is who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory. Alleluia!
In other words, remember: Christ is your life. Christ is your life. Christ is your life.
Hold on to this above all things.
And let’s follow Jesus together.
P.S. One of the resources I have found helpful this week is an open letter written by Martin Luther during a time of plague in Germany in 1527. It is full of practical Christian wisdom and insightful counsel for a time like ours. I would encourage you to read it. You can access it here.