Feeding Faith in the Midst of the Coronavirus
“Love your neighbor as yourself” – Matthew 22:39
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It certainly seems surreal the times we’re in at the moment. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve wrestled with the call between faith and caution. But as is often the case with Jesus’ teachings, it’s neither one OR the other – it’s both! Justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin, as is joy and sorrow and death and life. So though we’re told “be not afraid” (Deuteronomy 31:8) and “do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6), that doesn’t mean we should live in such a way that puts God to the test (Matthew 4:7). Rather, we should treat our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (i.e. love ourselves) and therefore, likewise, love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39). Meaning, “defend the weak” (Psalm 82:3) and “have regard for them” (Psalm 41:1). “In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
So once the CDC declared that all U.S. events of 10 or more people should be cancelled or held virtually, I knew that Sunday worship services would have to change in format. This is not just out of care for our congregation and our country, but it is obedience to the authorities God has established (Romans 13:1).
Therefore, having discussed with the church vestry and having instruction from our bishop, CHS’ 10AM Eucharist service will be live-streamed on Facebook at our church’s profile (CHS Osprey) CLICK HERE. I encourage CHS members and friends to stay home on Sundays and watch via the internet.
The good news is you do NOT have to be a Facebook member to watch. If you are on Facebook and haven’t already, please “like” CHS Osprey. But if you are not on Facebook and choose not to set up an account, no worries – you can still watch live on Sundays at 10AM (CLICK HERE). You can follow and pray along with me on Sunday for a shortened Eucharist service using the attached bulletin (CLICK HERE).
I know this is not normal and may seem very strange, perhaps even impersonal. I understand. But for the greater long-term good, I ask us to make this short-term sacrifice. Think of it as another Lenten discipline. It is also important to remember that worship (as I preached recently) is not as much about site and time, as much as it is about spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). We are first and foremost bound together by our bond of faith in the spirit of Christ – not by physical proximity (as important as it is).
Nonetheless, during this temporary time of being distanced, we can still live into our vision of a loving community…and we must. This is the time to press further into reaching out to talk with each other, share with each other, and pray with each other. We will still BE the church. We are still open! Open hands to serve; open hearts to love the Lord and our neighbor. I implore you to seek the Lord as to how YOU CAN BE THE CHURCH in light to those around you. We serve a creative God!
We will still pray, worship, bless, give, serve, and share the faith, hope, and love of Jesus Christ. And YOU get to embody him to those in your sphere of influence all the more during this time, when people need him most!
I remain available to you, for you, and with you. Please call me (928-388-9676) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions, thoughts, or concerns. For now, the office will keep its normal hours (Tuesday – Friday, 9:30 – 4). Our Vestry is also available and will be in touch with you personally as well. In fact, as another way to stay connected as a church community, you will receive a personal devotion from a Vestry member every day until further notice.
Please remember, you are not alone in this. In profound ways, we are more surrounded in God’s love than we perceive. Jesus never leaves us, nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). We are together the Body of Christ, and we must resist the worst manifestations of panicked individualism taking hold in so many other quarters around us. There is the “most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31) for which we can stand up and speak out. His name is Jesus, and he is perfect love, which casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.
Love in Christ,
Fr. Michael +