COVID-19 Email Update #5

Special Announcement #5 Regarding COVID-19 for 3/18/2020

Good morning and happy Wednesday!!

Earlier this week, as all of the new recommended restrictions related to the current pandemic were coming down, I received an email from the local Queen Creek Independent Newspaper about our recurring monthly ad. The sales representative wanted to know if we wanted to keep the ad the same or make changes. I realized it wasn’t practical to keep it the same, since it asks people to join us for worship at the church at our usual Sunday morning worship times of 8, 9:30, and 11 AM since we may or may not be there, even during the month of April. So I changed the ad to suggest that they check out our website for information on COVID-19 and worship opportunities through the church. I then asked the rep if we could include the following scripture, and she loved the idea! The passage I added is this:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

This passage is often used to offer comfort to the faithful who are dealing with difficult situations. Kind of like now. It reminds us that God is with us always and is walking with us through challenging times, whether those challenges are personal, community wide, or even worldwide.

In just a matter of days, our lives have changed tremendously. For some of our church members, children who were once in school during the day are now underfoot at home. Teens, who are naturally communal and restless, are frustrated when they can’t go out and be with their friends. College students, who were living on their own are now back at home, “attending” their classes online, whether they like it or not. Many adults are now working from home, while others are being laid off and wondering how they will make ends meet. And all of us are no doubt frustrated and angry when we go to the store only to find empty shelves because others are hoarding, as if the world is coming to an end!! What’s more, when we read or listen to the news, we are forced to face the reality that this new reality could last for months…we just don’t know.

All of us are now forced to figure out how we will navigate this new reality, including the ways we continue to be the church. Today I’ll be working on Sunday’s worship, and will likely have more information for you about what that will look like by this evening or first thing tomorrow. We are experimenting with holding small group ministries and meetings using ZOOM so we can remain connected with each other. And in the next few days, I’ll be meeting with our Congregational Care Ministers so they can start reaching out to you to find out what, if anything, the church can do for you during this difficult time. There are a lot of logistics to work out, a lot of new things (like technology) to learn, but I believe, with God’s help and God’s presence, we will get through this. We will survive and thrive!

One thing that is laying heavy on my heart is how those folks in our congregation and in our community who are having their livelihoods affected by this new reality because they’ve either been laid off from their jobs or had their hours severely cut, those who are able to work but have child care issues, and those who were suffering before this new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) crossed over into the United States just a few weeks ago. As the church, we are called to respond. So in the coming days, I hope to communicate some of those ideas with you through these emails, and I hope all of you will respond as God is leading you to respond. Last Sunday, my message was about helping the poor and the disadvantaged. This message is even more critical right now. Let’s all keep that in mind as we are dealing with our own hardships related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

In the meantime, please know that I am praying for all of you. I think of all of you often, and look forward to the day when we can come back together for Sunday morning worship. I also urge all of you to pray for each other and pray for those who are in need, not just those who were in need before this crisis, but those who find themselves in need because of it. Remember, God calls upon us to not be afraid; to be courageous, even in the face of adversity. I know that God is with us…let’s all remember that in the coming days and weeks.

“Do not be anxious about anything…”

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jody