March 23, 2020
I give thanks to God for you daily! I am grateful for my flock, who has shown patience and grace as we respond to the health crisis caused by the Coronavirus. Recommendations from the CDC, the governor of Ohio, and our presbytery have led us to cancel programs and groups for at least the next few weeks, including AA. The staff is working from home when possible, and the building is closed. Session, Deacons, Trustees, and committees are in communication through email and phone to care for the congregation.
With the Lord’s help, we will remain faithful to love and serve God and neighbor in creative ways and not become discouraged about things we cannot control or change. For WE are the Church—not the building, amen? We held our first “virtual only” worship on Facebook and YouTube on March 15, but then decided it might be too dangerous to meet in groups of any size. I am recording my messages and prayers these next few Sundays and posting, as usual, at my blog: pastorkaren.org, Facebook, YouTube, and our Website. Because the situation may change at any time, we invite you to listen and watch for announcements on local media and Facebook, and if you have questions, contact a Session member or me at 321-634-4870 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have canceled the Lenten Cantata and don’t know, yet, if we will be able to gather in person for Holy Week. If the Coronavirus is still a serious threat, we will host only virtual worship. We will honor the Easter flower orders that we have received, but we hope you understand that we cannot accept orders for any more. We will postpone the egg hunt, Easter breakfast, candy-making, and bake sale until May.
Thank you to all who have sent offerings by mail or given online. We invite our congregation to continue to give as the Spirit leads, as we have all our usual ministry expenses while the building is closed, including paying our staff.
How are you feeling, friends? If you are anxious, fearful or lonely, struggling with a health concern, need prayer or other help, I would like to hear from you. Please know that we are praying for you and your families and I am just a phone call away.
We are still the Body, united by the head of the Church—Jesus Christ. Nothing will ever change that. Thank you for your prayers for our congregation and for the healing of the world God so loves. Thank you for showing God’s love by checking on members and neighbors and offering help to people in need.
In his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul expressed complete confidence in the reality of God’s love, regardless of circumstances. He asked with boldness, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). If God gave His very own Son, Jesus, to save us, then He will provide everything we need to finish this life well. He lists seven seemingly unbearable situations that he himself faced: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and the sword (v. 35). He didn’t imply that Christ’s love would stop bad things from happening. But Paul said that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37).
Through the uncertainty of this world, God can be trusted completely, knowing that nothing, absolutely nothing, “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39). So, don’t listen to anyone who says God has sent this virus as a punishment for sin or that this is a sign of the end of the age. Jesus tells us that the Son of Man will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. But do continue believing in the One who is always for us and never against us. The One who, in Revelation 22, says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
We look forward to the time when we worship and fellowship, once again, without fear of sickness and when we may see one another face to face, shake hands and offer hugs, break bread, drink the cup, share stories and minister together as the congregation has done for more than two centuries in the City of Coshocton.
May God bless you with peace, joy, and good health as you cling to the love of Jesus and the God who is always for us and never against us.
Pastor Karen and the Session of The Presbyterian Church