Edit: As of March 14th we have cancelled service at the request of our governing authorities. We will communicate with our congregation concerning our meeting times in the following days. “May your reasonableness be made know to everyone, the Lord is at hand.”
A Pastoral Request
Due to the concern of COVID-19, I wanted to take a moment and give a few quick thoughts about our weekly gatherings and our manner of life. First, We plan to continue meeting weekly on the Lord’s Day. We don’t want to be numb to the realities that are before us. While the spread of COVID-19 and the fatalities associated with it are low in young-healthy adults, it can be fatal in those who have pre-existing conditions or are older. In our congregation, we have adults, as well as children who fall into that category. Due to this we would urge you that if you are running fever, or showing symptoms of the Flu or COVID-19 that you would stay home with your family as a means of loving your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
A Pastoral Plea
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do announcements well. The previous section was to give information that the elders feel is necessary for the saints at Mercy Hill, but I do want to make a quick plea. Philippians 4:4-7 says,
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7 ESV
My great frustration during this time is in the information being given. I am irritated at a system that politicizes everything. I am also frustrated with myself. Information comes in, I read or watch so that I can stay informed but I am also affected, sometimes in a God-honoring way, and at other times in the flesh. How do we respond in moments like this? Paul has already told us. We rejoice. Lest you think I am being insensitive or reading into the passage, Paul is clear, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” This makes a simple assumption that is important to the Christian, we always have a reason to rejoice. We have the hope of the Gospel and the ever-present reality of fellowship with Christ as our immutable hope. It matters not what goes on in the world around us. Christ is ours and Christ is our reason for unshakable rejoicing.
This, however, is not a call for isolation. As a matter of fact, Paul highlights this in his next phrase, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” Our rejoicing is the only reasonable response to our being convinced that “The Lord is at hand.” This reasonable response is lived out in the public sphere. People should see our rejoicing amidst uncertain times. They should see steadfastness. They should see the joy we have in the gospel. The should see and we should be ready to tell. As 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
All of this seems to be rooted in the putting away of anxiety by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Anxiety during these times should be no surprise, but prayers flowing from the saints should be as certain as the anxiety of the world. It is our response to anxiety. It is our only reasonable response to it, for we serve the Sovereign of creation. What fools we would be to sit in anxiety with the world when we have been granted endless access to the omnibenevolent God. Furthermore, we bring reproach on the loveliness of Christ when we are filled with endless anxiety based on circumstance. Saints, run to Christ in prayer and thanksgiving and see anxiety melt. Perhaps, by God’s grace, He will use our reasonableness among uncertain times to proclaim the beauty of Christ to a people yet unborn. Oh that we would let our request be made known to him amidst this trying time, but may it be that our request are in line with His will. May we pray that God would heal the sick, rescue the perishing, and save the lost. We must see these times with eternal eyes. May the God of all grace, the Healer, draw many unto himself during this time.
Lastly, rest in what is true brothers and sisters. This world is fading. But the kingdom to come knows no fading. It is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. May our hearts and minds be guarded with the peace that surpasses all understanding, and may we realize that the peace that guards our hearts and minds is the ministry of Christ the Lord and His ever constant presence in our hearts and minds. And may we offer those whose ground shakes at every abnormality in the world the hope of a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, Christ the Lord.