Dear Covenant Family,
No doubt you’ve heard that the White House and Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines on Monday, urging Americans to refrain from gathering in groups of ten or more, in an attempt to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The elders met last night and decided, out of concern for the congregation and the larger community, as well as a desire to submit to the governing authorities, to suspend our Sunday worship service until it is deemed safe to resume. Since we decided last week to suspend all other church gatherings, this effectively means that we will not be meeting in small groups or as a congregation for a while. That does not mean, however, that we can’t be praying for and encouraging one another. We need that now more than ever. The elders and I are certainly here for you. Please give us a call or send us an email or text if you have a need.
We will also be posting on our website an abbreviated liturgy and an audio sermon each Sunday morning for you to use in home worship. The liturgy will include many of the same ingredients as our public worship, though since you will not have the benefit of musical accompaniment, we will include some YouTube sites to go to if you want to sing the selected hymns. If you don’t have a Trinity Hymnal, please let me know; I will make sure you get one or more for your home. Also, during this time, we will be taking a break from our sermon series in the book of Revelation and going back to the Psalms, beginning with a message I preached a little over three years ago, on Psalm 11, entitled, “Faith’s Response to Fear’s Counsel.”
Our world is filled with fear right now. How comforting it is to remember what we heard last week from Revelation 4, that our God is sovereign over all things, including this virus, and that he uses it all to accomplish his kingdom purposes. Indeed, such frightening things (from a human vantage point) don’t thwart his good and loving and eternal plan for you and me; they are part of that plan, as difficult as that may be to understand. But, then, that’s why faith is so important, and why we must walk by faith. As Moses said to Joshua, concerning the threats he was about to face: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31.6). The same, of course, is true of us; Immanuel is always with us.
In 1948, after the dawn of the atomic age, C. S. Lewis wrote an essay entitled, “Living in an Atomic Age.” Though the circumstances of his day were different than ours, I find Lewis’ thoughts helpful as we think about our own.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age or motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented; and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
That’s good advice, I think. Yes, we should take the reasonable precautions the White House and CDC have asked us to take—we shouldn’t be foolhardy in the name of faith—but having done so, let us not become so dominated with the virus that we lose sight of the far, far greater Lord who loves us and whom we serve. As we are taking all due precautions, may we also be found—along with praying, working, and bathing the children—checking in on an elderly neighbor and lending a hand to those in need. This is a time to be living out our faith and loving others as God gives us opportunity. That’s what these days and every day are ultimately for.May we remember that as we rest secure in the Father’s loving hands.