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Pastor Post - March 18, 2020

Dear FBC family, 

The news about the coronavirus continues to change day by day, and hour by hour.  In fact, by the time this newsletter reaches you, it probably will have changed again!  Over the past few days, meetings of more than 100 have been banned in our state, and meetings of 50 or more have been strongly discouraged by the CDC.  The latest news, as I write, is that gatherings of more than 10 are out of bounds.  

From 100…to 50…to 10!  But rather than get caught up in the numbers, what we need to do is see the obvious point that health officials are urgently making to us: “The less the better.” The hope is that if Americans will be super careful over the next few weeks, we can “flatten the curve” and prevent this from becoming an all-out disaster in our country.  This virus is so incredibly contagious that each person who gets it tends to unknowingly pass it on to multiple people.  For the vast majority of us, that would simply mean having some flu symptoms for a few days and fully recovering.  But for older people and people with respiratory issues or other preexisting conditions…it could mean death.  Millions could die if this got out of hand.  

There are two vital things to remember here.  First, as Christians, we do not need to fear death.  We have a Savior who has conquered death and given us eternal life!  Second, as Christians, we do need to love our neighbors.  It is not just the government that is telling us to care for our neighbors by taking extraordinary measures to try to keep from getting this virus and passing it on.  Much more importantly for us as believers, God calls us to love our neighbors, and right now, giving up some things that we enjoy doing is part of loving other people, especially those who are vulnerable and at-risk.  As Christians, we do want to be carriers of the gospel.  We don’t want to be carriers of something that could harm another person.   

So let’s be careful.  Let’s do the best practices, for the sake of others:  wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or more, over and over and over throughout the day, especially after going places.  Don’t touch your face or eyes with unwashed hands.  And when you are around people, be warm and friendly and loving, but avoid handshakes or getting as close as you normally would.  Let’s pray and do all we can.  

As far as physically coming together as a church, that decision is now out of our hands.  Last weekend our church leadership made the agonizing decision to cancel, because we felt convicted that it was the right thing.  But now our state and national officials have definitively spoken.  If we came together at this point it would be in defiance of what they are mandating.  

Listen, if the government were telling Christians not to meet because of our faith, believe me, I would be the first to say, “We must obey God rather than men.”  But in this case, what the government is saying aligns with our desire to love our neighbors. 

Brothers and sisters, we don’t know when things will return to normal, or when we can come together again.  Let’s pray that these radical measures we are taking as a nation will be effective, and that things can get back to normal sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, we’ll keep you continually updated.  But here is good news:  even though we temporarily can’t go to church, we can still be the church. 

Here are some ways that can happen: 

  • Each Sunday morning, I’ll be preaching a message from God’s Word that will be posted on social media, our website, and our church app. Get up on the Lord’s Day and tune in.  Then hit the “share” button and send it to friends.  The sermon from this past Sunday has already been viewed over 2000 times!  (Note: if you don’t have a computer or a way to watch the sermons, or if you know someone in that category, please call our church office and let us know.  We will gladly make sure you can participate!)
  • Stay in touch with one another. This doesn’t have to be face to face.  Pick up the phone and reach out to others.  We can talk.  We can text.  We can reach out on social media.  We can pray with one another and for one another.  In fact, we can come out of this with stronger relationships than we had before. 
  • If you have a practical need and it is difficult for you to get out, please call our church or one of the pastors or deacons and let us know. It would be a joy to serve you!
  • Be the church to your neighbors. Are there people who live around you or that you know who are vulnerable and at-risk?  Call them.  Check on them.  Offer to help them.  Look for opportunities to share the gospel.  This is the perfect time to turn ordinary conversations into gospel conversations.
  • Continue to give faithfully to the ministry of our church. We need your help in this.  You can easily give online.  If you need help getting this set up, just call the church.  Someone can walk you through it, or even come out and help you with it.  But you can also mail in your offering, bring it by, or someone can come get it. 
  • Get creative! Fortunately, technology allows all kinds of ways to meet that are not necessarily face to face.  In fact, many of my IMB Trustee meetings have been online for several years.  It’s remarkable what you can do, and much of this technology is free.  A group (for instance, your Sunday School class) can now talk with one another and study the Bible together without even   having to leave the house.  Check it out.  If you need help getting this set up, call the church.
  • Use the extra time to go deeper in Bible study and prayer. Journal.  Read a soul-enriching book.  Love on your family. 

All this will pass.  We don’t know exactly when, but it will pass.  But God has his purposes for this time, and let’s not waste this opportunity to grow and change, coming through it even stronger in the Lord and stronger as a church.  

Pray for the message this Sunday.  I’m prepared to preach from the Sermon on the Mount, and we’ll get back to it at some point, but this Sunday I again feel led to preach from a text that is especially targeted to what people are going through.  Read over Luke 12:54-13:9.  I’m going to speak on the subject, “What Do These Things Mean?”  There is so much confusion and idle speculation in our culture about what is going on.  But Jesus has the answers.  In fact, he is the Answer.  We’ll talk about it Sunday.  The video will be posted by 9AM.  Have your Bible open, your heart open, talk about it with others, and share it with others! 

I love you, church family.

Pastor Thurman