As a pastor, I am deeply encouraged and empowered by the testimony that our church has shown during the current crisis. Wisdom and care, all with good spirit and hope.
With this in mind, we will treat the health and well-being of our employees and the community as carefully as possible. We have children and adult members with special health considerations.
All special church events have been postponed. These include the kindergarten baby shower, the talent show and the start of the trail life scout group. If it is a special event, we assume that we have postponed it until we are certain that we can safely do so.
As for regular services, let the Kirby Pines Department of Nursing Homes, the men’s breakfast and the Bible on Wednesday morning, the Fellowship on Wednesday evening, the American Heritage Girls, the Southaven homeschool on Thursday, the Bible study on Thursday evening, choral practice and that Postpone Bible study for women to future times. Hopefully we’ll be back to normal in a few weeks.
Here is something that some of you may find unusual.
Churches don’t close.
Not for fire, flooding or killer bees. Not for wars or rumors of war. Not for famines and not for epidemics. This is a very rich and deep part of the history of the Christian Church, and when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
Where do people go when there is terror everywhere and they need peace and consolation?
Where does the church meet to receive food, resources and other care when the usual sources fail?
What institution must people rely on when everyone else fails?
Churches don’t close because we are the last resort hope. We are the line in the sand regarding the suffering of this contemporary world. We are what will go on when all other worldly honors cease.
The church is not just an institution when things are good and everyone is happy. We are the meeting point of people with God when things collapse.
It may be more important that we stop the light now than at any other time.
We cannot fail.
Everything else could also stop, but the service cannot stop.
From the resurrection of Christ to the end of the world, sunshine and rain, winter and harvest, war and peace, the worship of the Lord our God must continue. Sometimes it will be easy, sometimes it will be difficult, but we will continue to fight.
If you are wondering, we want you to judge reasonably and ensure the safety of yourself and your families. Staying at home is considered a solid and sensible judgment by the session under the circumstances. Please use online worship and family worship in your home, because worshiping the Lord our God is a joy and privilege, but in a way a duty.
However, please keep in mind that there is a strong tendency in Christian tradition to consider personal participation in worship, especially on the day of the Lord, as a duty. In other words, some people believe they are participating and it is a question of their conscience before God. Scripture itself tells us that we always have to be very slow to force someone else’s conscience. Acting against conscience is neither right nor certain. For those who are convinced that it is their moral duty to attend the service personally on Sunday, we have a service for you. We should not try to convince these people to soften their convictions about the will of the people. Each of us is accountable to a higher authority.
There are biblical exceptions. The Bible had no problem excluding those who suffer from a known illness from corporate worship for some time. It happened that the pastors, with a clear conscience, asked this person to stay at home if a person had symptoms that were compatible with a communicable disease. So if you have reason to believe that something will come to your mind, stay at home and rest, get better, and come back soon.
We also understand the state’s demands on businesses and personal choices – but the Church is not one of them. A church is not just a business in which we do church things. It is true that we have a business license from the state and it is not a sin to comply with this request, but that does not mean that they cannot ask us to do something that is beyond their authority. Actions that are perfectly reasonable in relation to a restaurant or a bar cannot be applied equally to a church just because both are gatherings of people. This similarity is not enough.
The Christian has Christ and the Holy Spirit and can worship anywhere, anytime. We “pray without ceasing”, but we also put certain places aside as “holy” and work for the special manifestation of worship. Moses had the tent of encounter, Israel had the temple and we have Graceview. This is not old Jerusalem, but it does not mean that this special place is not delimited by blessings for the common worship of the people of God. Buildings are important, and where worship is to be performed (once the church has decided and ordered it) is a rule that must be followed. It is a law for us. That doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. It’s not an immutable type of law like the Ten Commandments, but it’s a rule that makes it easier to comply with many of the larger laws. It is not an eternal command; We can change the time, the location, the music, the colors, the doors and the floors – but we cannot change the content.
Do we really want to be the first generation in 2000 years to cancel all services?
There are very good reasons why the state is not responsible for the church, and our immunity to its commandments is due to the special role of the church in the world. We have our own government that is independent of the state. Our elected representatives are also wise and will make the best possible decisions for the good of the people. We will of course include some issues in our analysis that may not be of great importance to the state. This is another reason why the state is prohibited from enacting laws relating to the faith and practice of the Church. Their job is to protect the church, but they are limited by God and mere human law in the expression of their authority.
You can watch online on Facebook or Youtube, we have both. (Let us know if you’re having trouble getting there, and we’ll help you out.)
You can call me on the phone and we can talk. As you know, this conversation will be an opportunity for me to preach to you soon anyway.
All pastoral care appointments will continue as usual, unless you call to cancel.
The Church will be open to prayer and praise every day until the current crisis is resolved.
Let us seek Christ and a Christian understanding of time and its burden and burden on the nation in all of these things. This is a crisis, but like everyone, it is an opportunity. Hard times will pass, but the church of Jesus Christ will never pass. We are forever.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you,” explains the Lord. Plans to thrive and not harm you; plans to give you hope and future. “
Graceview Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
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