Coronavirus Update March 16, 2020
This afternoon, I listened to the White House Coronavirus briefing and I’ve reached a place of deep conviction. I was struck by the words of Dr. Deborah Birx who is a part of the White House Task Force. She said that while at this time, we don’t have medical interventions for prevention or treatment of COVID-19, what we do have is the “amazing ingenuity and compassion of the American people.” She appealed to the American people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. She addressed the different numbers we’re hearing. Some recommendations have said no groups over 100, some say no groups over 50. When questioned about her recommendation of even smaller groups, she clarified the way a virus spreads and the great impact we can have by separating ourselves physically. And then she said, “If everyone in America does what we ask for over the next 15 days, we will see a dramatic difference...”
One of my great convictions is that the church does not stand outside the community but is rather called to offer leadership to and with the community. We cannot be reactive and fearful, but we must be responsive and responsible in the face of what challenges the whole world today. We must be leaders willing to be still, willing to lead with a deep sense of community responsibility. It’s such an odd feeling to ask for our sense of community to look like staying away from each other, but in this case, that’s exactly what I’m asking.
This past Sunday, our first scripture reading came from 1 Kings 19. Elijah, Israel’s great prophet went to the mountain of God to wait for him there. He was looking for God and expected to find God’s presence in a mighty wind, in an earthquake, and in a fire. But then there was “a sound of sheer silence” and when Elijah heard that, he heard the voice of God. What a strange thing, God showing up in a still and quiet moment. Friends, I’m asking us to be still, and for that stillness to be a witness to our faith. Not fear and frenzy, but stillness and calmness. And I pray that in that still, quiet place, we may hear God’s voice speaking to us.
For now, my conviction is to do the next right thing. And I believe that the next right thing is to comply with the requests of the ones who are leading us through this time. We will not gather for public worship on March 22 or March 29. We’ll make further determinations after those dates based upon the recommendations available at that time. I am working on a plan to record my sermons and to provide a guide to worship. I cannot tell you exactly what that looks like at this moment, I can promise you I’m working on it. Look for additional information in the next couple of days about how we can all participate in worship and prayer as a community of faith even as we remain in our separate homes.
Finally, let me reiterate a few things. Do not hesitate to reach out if you find yourself in need. If you need groceries, if you need someone to talk to, if you are in need, period. Call each other. Be in prayer for one another. What a powerful witness of the abiding presence of Christ we can be for one another in such a time as this!