A Message From Senior Pastor Paul Dale
What uncertain times we are living in! It’s so good to trust in an unchanging, all loving, ever- reigning God!
I want to update you on our plans at church amidst the ever-changing landscape of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Before outlining some practical steps we are taking to provide a safe environment for our church community, I am eager for us to reflect on some foundational unchanging truths about our great God at this moment of uncertainty.
I am reminded of the Israelites ‘waiting’ to cross the Jordan River in Joshua 3, waiting with the unknown as to how the next steps might unfold. It’s interesting to note what God did not do; God did not just pick up his people and deposit them safely on far side. Rather he asked them to trust Him and depend on Him and obey Him as they waited – and then cling to him as they walked into the unknown. It is clear that God is now calling us to wait, yet we must continue to trust Him, depend on Him, obey Him, as well as loving our neighbour well.
So here are 3 truths about God to believe in as we wait:
1) God’s control
We do need to be realistic and take seriously the reality of this danger, and not just pretend everything will be OK. The reality is that we don’t know what will happen over the coming weeks. We will likely face significant changes to our daily lives, quarantine zones, a global financial crisis, loss of loved ones. This time will involve considerable suffering across our nation, and many of us may experience the sadness of bereavement.
But in the midst of this, we must trust in a sovereign God, who holds this event and each one of us in His mighty hands. We do not know why this is happening, and we don’t know what tomorrow might bring but we do know the one who holds our tomorrow in His hands. God is sovereign, nothing takes Him by surprise, He is still good and nothing can thwart His purpose. I believe 1 Chronicles 29:11 is a good word for this moment: "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all”. And Psalm 121:1 is a good verse to pray: I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
2) God’s care
Psalm 23 is a wonderful psalm that reminds us of the sovereign care of the Lord, who is our personal shepherd. He assures us of his ordering of all things, His care for us personally, and the provision He makes for both this life and the life to come. But above all, Psalm 23 reminds us of God’s presence with us – He will lead us, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. And when through deep waters He calls us to go, ‘though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love’ (Lam 3:32-33).
This glorious assurance really does provide peace in the midst of fear, light in the midst of darkness and disease, and rest for our weary souls.
The Bible invites us to ‘cast all your anxiety onto Him, because He cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). Our world needs to hear that, and Christians need to believe and practice that! So when we are afraid, we need to run to Him and cast all our anxieties on Him.
Here’s a suggestion: let’s make handwashing or hand sanitizing be a moment in which each of us consciously entrust ourselves and the future of people we care about into His hands.
3) God’s compassion
This verse reminds us of the compassion of our God. His heart is aching when he sees the needs of people. Of course their biggest need is spiritual, but Jesus also provided for their physical, material and emotional needs.
As a church we claim to ‘Live for Jesus and love like Jesus’. Well now is an extraordinary opportunity to love and serve those around us. We have the privilege of providing for those most in need. So when you hear of someone self-isolating, let’s show the love of Christ in action by leaving a meal on the doorstep, providing essential groceries, offering to pray with them (below are some suggestion of how we can do this well). And let’s make the most of every opportunity to speak of the hope we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. For those without Christ, this is a time of even greater anxiety and panic – yet we have the glorious gospel to offer them. Of course we need to be careful and make church as safe as possible. But please don’t forgot for one moment where our true safety lies.
We do want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the advice from our Federal and State governments, the health authorities as well as from our diocese. We want to assure you we are committed to do everything possible to provide a safe environment for our church community to enable us to continue to live for Jesus and love like Jesus in this season.