Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
We have entered a time in history which most of us have not ever experienced. The governors of the states in our area have cancelled schools, athletic events, and large gatherings of people, even closing the doors of restaurants to dine in patrons. The state of Ohio has even cancelled the primary election hours before it was to begin. Many churches have closed their doors as well.
After much thought and prayer, the elders and I do not believe, at this time, the Lord is directing us to suspend our Sunday morning services. We will, however, alter the way we do things and some activities will be cancelled. Having said that, we are strongly urging everyone to be very cautious about their interactions with one another here at Guyandotte church of Christ, and to practice good hygiene (washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, etc.). We are also encouraging people to not shake hands but rather to simply acknowledge one another with a greeting.
In addition, if you have a condition which makes you more susceptible to contracting a virus, you may want to consider the possibility of not attending services, for a couple of weeks. If you do decide to stay home, please remember that your continual financial support of our shared ministry during this crisis is very much appreciated.
During this time, I urge you to stay in touch with your church family. Even while our social contact is now limited, there are many things we can do. We can make a phone call: Check on one another and encourage one another. We can keep in touch with messaging and social media. We can even write a letter to someone. Check out our website: read articles, look at pictures and catch up on a sermon you might have missed. But most importantly, this can be a time to pray.
Please know that the leadership at Guyandotte is constantly monitoring the events and announcements coming from our elected officials and are prepared to make changes as needed. We will update you as needed by the REMIND messaging app (by the way each message is limited in characters so some things may come through in multiple messages). I have also re-joined Facebook for this time to send out messages as needed. Please know, your leaders are here for you. Whether it be a physical need, a spiritual need, or some other need, please call one of us and make your needs known.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is yet one more reminder that we live in a fallen world. Ultimately, none of us are immune to any of these things, because we still live in this world. But that’s why the gospel is such good news. God has not left us alone in this world of sin, pain, sickness, and death. The good news is that God sent his Son into this world. God became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus died, was buried, but he rose again victorious over sin and death. And through the blood of Jesus, God instituted a permanent covenant with humanity: To those who believe in this Gospel and accept the payment Christ made by dying with Christ and rising with him (see Romans 6: 3-5 “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”) – if we remain faithful until death, we will inherit everlasting life.
Because of this, we should not fear like the world fears. Acts 10:34-36 tells us if we fear God and do what is right, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ. Luke 12:4-6 reminds us that we do not need to fear the things of the world if we kfear God. Hebrews 2:14-16 says:
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
So how do we live? We should be prudent, but not panicked. We should count our blessings in place of worry. Now is a time to demonstrate our faith by our actions: to share our faith in Jesus with others by the way we respond to this crisis. As a recent article in Church Leaders Magazine says: “Don’t Quarantine the Great Commission!” Yes, times like these remind us all of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. So, let’s continue to spread the greatest news of all: that death has been defeated, that God is present with his people, and that eternal life is available to all who trust in Jesus.
May God bless his people and keep us united in Christ for His glory. AMEN.