We, like people of every era, live in uncertain times. Recent reaction to the COVID-19 virus has been stunning. While we must guard against overreaction, it is important to make appropriate preparation.
First a few things to remember. Our Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions 7 and 11 remind us of two very important points regarding the COVID-19 virus.
Q7: What are the decrees of God?
A7: The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Q11: What are God’s works of providence?
A11: God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.
First, nothing comes to pass except that which God has purposed and ordained for His own glory. Second, God is absolutely sovereign over the world in which we live, including COVID-19 and all our responses to it.
So, how should we respond? First, let me encourage you with a few common sense precautions.
- Wash your hands and do so with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. In that time, you can recite the Lord’s Prayer, or the Apostles’ Creed, or a passage of scripture you are working to memorize. Or you could simply sing “Happy Birthday” two times. Wash thoroughly and regularly throughout the day.
- Avoid touching your face. Ask someone to keep you accountable.
- Boost your immunity. Eat things that boost immunity. Avoid things that suppress your immunity. Take lots of Vitamin C, either in foods or through supplements. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Foods with high-fructose corn syrup or refined sugars will suppress your immunity. Especially avoid soft drinks.
- Stay hydrated with WATER (not soft-drinks or coffee – those will only dehydrate). Try to drink 64 ounces of water throughout the day.
- Don’t hibernate, but do be sensible about physical contact with others. Minimize physical interactions. Avoid large crowds. At church please refrain from hugs or hand-shakes for now. Limit eating out as well.
- If you are sick, or have been recently, stay home from church. Your immunity is compromised and you are vulnerable. And you might affect someone else who is vulnerable. Follow the principle of Philippians 2:3 to “consider others more significant than yourself.” We will get the sermons and orders of service posted on social media for your use at home. The command to “not neglect to meet together” in Hebrews 10:25 does not mean “at all costs” to yourself or others.
- Keep updated with accurate information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
At present the Session is not recommending we suspend our public gatherings for worship. If you are uncertain about whether to come, please contact Pastor Wheeler or one of the elders and let us help you think through your concerns. We will evaluate other weekly or scheduled activities on an individual basis. Please monitor our facebook and twitter feeds for updates. We will also send out emails and texts as appropriate regarding any cancellations. Please make sure that we have your current contact information for email and texts.
Throughout history, the Church’s response to health crises has been to care for the community. Let me suggest the following ways in which we need to be prepared to care for our community.
- Think about the vulnerability of others, those at church, your neighbors, and at-risk people in your spheres of influence. Keep close contact with one another. Establish a pattern of calling, texting, or emailing. Ask how you can help. Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Remember that physical and emotional distress often produces spiritual distress. Take time to ask, “how are you holding up right now?” and “how can I pray for you?” Encourage others to express their fears, concerns, and frustrations, then point them to Christ. Your neighbor’s uncertainty goes beyond Coronavirus. This is an important time to consistently share the gospel. If you are not sure how to get started, talk with Pastor Wheeler or one of the elders.
And for a few final considerations, remember that the greatest danger in this crisis is not infection from COVID 19, but the fearful response of our society. In view of this here are a few more practical tips to keep in mind.
- Top off your tank every time you go out. Gasoline shortages often accompany ramped-up panic. If you have some gas cans, fill them just to be safe.
- Keep plenty of nourishing food on hand. If you need something and can’t get out to get it or can’t find it, or are simply concerned about being out ask someone for help. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
- Be careful not to get caught up in the social media vortex of panic that will only grow. As believers in a sovereign God, we are called to bring comfort and assurance, not fear and uncertainty to our neighbors.
- Take more time in prayer and in the reading of God’s Word so that you can remember that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and that He still rules and reigns. Don’t lose hope or give in to fear, but remember God’s promise.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24