By Pastor Tony Smith
The last couple months have been unprecedented in our church’s history as well as our nation’s, we find ourselves at a moment of unparalleled transition.
All of us seeking the best ways to move forward in the various facets of our life. Our collective commonality in our current season seems to be traversing the landscape of varied opinions and differing ideas. The understatement of the day is these are polarizing times. They certainly cause John Lennon’s 1979 lyric to have an eerily prophetic feel in light of today’s world.
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed
Kim and I pray for you and your families. Your safety physically, emotionally and spiritually are important to us, the staff and the elders. I continue to hear of the repercussions of the anxiety, depression, isolation and trauma of this time.
This information from a Time article of COVID-19’s psychological toll is alarming.
- Mental Distress Among Americans Has Tripled During the Pandemic Compared to 2018.
- more than one in four American adults met the criteria that psychologists use to diagnose serious mental distress and illness.
- This represents a roughly 700% increase from pre-pandemic data collected in 2018.
- Among adults living at home with kids under the age of 18, the rate of severe distress rose from just 3% in 2018 to 37% last month.
This past Sunday, May 10, marked the eighth Sunday we had not gathered together physically. This decision was made in accordance with our local authority’s recommendations. I do not wish to cast doubt on their good intentions or their desire for the health and welfare of their constituents. I do know that removing our corporate expression of worship, our faith community in-person interactions and consistent rhythms of age old sabbath practices aren’t healthy.
With the current lifting of the stringent recommendations by local authorities, we are choosing to open our doors for worship. I have already been told by someone, how just at the hearing of this news their heaviness has lifted. I am expecting healing, health and wholeness to come as we reboot. God created us in his image. He created us for relationship and community. We are the worshipers that he is seeking.
So early Sunday morning, I was awakened with these words of the Apostle Paul from Romans, “when I would do good, evil is present.” Some great teachers have deemed this a principle.
Weymouth in his New Testament renders it;
“I find therefore the law of my nature to be that when I desire to do what is right, evil is lying in ambush for me.” Romans 7:21 WNT
I’m in no way wanting to apply this text to a place it doesn’t belong. However, the parallel to our current situation is real. We all know and appreciate the gathering corporately to worship. We know that it is good. At the same time, we realize that there is a very real and present danger. Quite honestly, this is not anything new for us. Danger is present in our world. It is a true statement that when we would do good, evil is present. That applies to our desire to live a godly life. It also applies to living in a fallen world and attempting to do that which is good. It really is impossible to quarantine ourselves from all danger. Reality is that we grow stronger when we step out of our safety zone. Romans 12:21 directs us “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I hope you will join us this Sunday. It will look different. It is a new normal. I will state the obvious…social distancing is greatly incompatible with the way we do church. However, we will do our best. We ask that you extend grace with some of the changes. These changes are temporary, not eternal. Our first step is to get back together and additional steps will come.
God is going to do amazing things in our collective future. I am thankful that what God wants to do isn’t dependent on old wine skins, nor deterred by our temporary discomfort. When I read of the church in God’s word, I don’t see a church quarantined or a church socially distanced. I see a Church on Fire!
In my best Frank Costanza impression “we’re back in business, baby!”
You can find more information about our in-person meetings and reserve a seat here.