Church Update March 16, 2020
Dear Christ Covenant Church Family,
Thank you for allowing me and Noelle a week away this past week. Noelle and I are thankful for the church at Christ Covenant in Columbia, and committed to her continual healthy growth in Christ our Lord through his powerful gospel. I want to assure you that we are continuing to pray for our Lord’s church in the grief she suffers in the loss of a life among one of our church members' family, and in this difficult health crisis we’re facing.
The Session and Diaconate will be meeting Tuesday March 17th at 7:00 pm for prayer and discussion regarding how we can best minister to the church during this dark cloud of God’s providence. We will be reporting to the congregation on Thursday March 18th what decisions our officers make during our meeting.
Tonight I wanted to encourage you to consider a question and then an encouragement from God’s word.
How can we live as the church in the midst of worldwide health crises? While social distancing, handwashing, and staying home are well advised, the church is a kingdom of priests serving one true Lord who “is at hand”. Therefore, Paul encourages us to gospel joy, a gracious humility, and a godward gratitude.
Paul writes to a suffering church in Macedonia,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Philippians 4:4-6
We are encouraged with emphasis to gospel joy. Paul has to say it twice, “Rejoice...rejoice”. When my mama had to say something twice we needed to heed her emphasis. Some people may be naturally optimistic, happy go lucky, identifying themselves as a number 7 on the enneagram, but no one naturally rejoices in the Lord. There are too many crises in the world and too much brokenness within for people to honestly rejoice in the Lord. But when you know the height and depth and width and breadth of the love of the Lord of the universe, then we can rejoice even in the most wintry and even disease ridden conditions. God so demonstrates his love for you that he gave his only Son in your place. And his love continued when he raised him up from the dead and exalted him and gave him the name Lord. We can know and be in a relationship with the “Lord at hand” in his love for us each and everyday. Therefore, in these uncertain and difficult days be encouraged to be with him in his love for you each day as he reveals himself to you in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let his good news that he loves you and accepts you and wants to have you in his presence wash over your heart each day in the midst of the daily news of the Coronavirus and related matters. Share your rejoicing in the Lord by sharing life together with others in our particular church: invite someone to go for a walk or get together in a comfortable reasonable setting or give someone a call or write to them in some fashion. Let someone who does not know of the love of God hear about it through your words and see it in your life lived toward them in the joy you have in the Lord and want them to share with you.
Paul also encourages us to a gracious humility. It is expressed in the “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” The Greek word translated “reasonableness” is rich with meaning and flush with expression following the encouragement to a gospel joy. When we live a gospel joy our thoughts move beyond ourselves to the love of the Lord and our place in his kingdom. Therefore we’re able to exercise a gracious humility in the presence of anxious situations and relationships. We’re able to do things like treat people with a loving respect and forbearance when they do things that disrupt our personal space, peace, and happiness. “Reasonableness means that you learn to accept less than you think you deserve.” In an age of self love that produces tremendous amounts of instability and anxiety, we’re called in the gospel to live out a gracious humility that patiently endures adversity so that our neighbors are loved. It’s our Lord's gracious humility through us “to everyone”. A gracious humility goes a long way in ministering to others the grace of our Lord when those others do not share your views of how we should be thinking about or handling the crisis we all find ourselves facing.
Finally, we can live a Godward gratitude. Our anxiety in a world given over to the fall is natural. But Godward trusting thankful hearts are supernatural. A Godward gratitude rejoices in the Lord not in circumstances or situation. But it also prays asking for the Lord who is at hand to help in adverse circumstances and situations. A Godward gratitude is cultivated, not in the furrows of worry over what’s next and what if’s, but in the fallow ground of God’s grace in Jesus Christ behind and before us. It prays thinking of God’s will revealed in his Word for people and situations where the Lord is at hand, but not without the salt of a trusting gratitude for present and future grace secured in the past and ongoing work of God for you in Jesus Christ. Call or text someone and ask how you can pray for them and give thanks with them in these uncertain times. Go for a walk with someone and give thanks together as you pray together for others who are anxious, sad, and hopeless in these wintry days.
A Godward gratitude, gracious humility, and gospel joy are what our church and broken world need to be embraced by in these shaken days. Until Thursday.