I am so grateful to be a part of the church – the community of believers who have placed their hope and their trust in Jesus Christ. I know that regardless of what we may be confronted with, we have a personal relationship with Jesus who loves and cares for us.
That relationship, and the relationships we have with one another at Northgate – our local gathering of the church – become even more special when we go through something difficult together. Sometimes that has meant a time of war; or a national tragedy; or a financial crisis. Right now, the difficult event we are undergoing is dealing with the coronavirus.
Throughout the past week or so I have been meeting with the staff of Northgate discussing our strategies for responding wisely to this event. We have been gathering information and processing that with each other, and I want to tell you that the staff of Northgate are a wonderful, faith-filled and wise group of people who care deeply about this church body and about listening to the Lord’s direction and guidance.
As we’ve held our meetings we have been united in recognizing first of all that we are people of faith who absolutely trust in the Lord to care for us and to direct us. Proverbs 3:5-6 guides us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” We are seeking to do that in all of our decision-making.
We are also guided by 2 Timothy 1:7: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We do not want to be overtaken by fear, but rather we want the Spirit of God to guide us and give us the power to love well and remain self-disciplined, knowing that this is only a time of uncertainty to us; God is still in control and knows exactly what is happening and what’s to come.
In regard to being wise, I only want to reiterate what you have probably already heard a number of times. Be wise in the ways you care for yourself and others. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Use hand sanitizer when you need to (we’ve made that more available throughout the church). Refrain from shaking hands with people or putting your hands to your face. (At the church we encourage greeting one another without shaking hands, and this week we’ll have ushers with gloves on at the entrances to open the doors; we’ll also be collecting the offering in boxes instead of passing the offering plates.) And if you are sick, or think you may have been exposed to someone with the virus, please stay home. You can watch our services on Facebook and very soon you’ll be able to watch them on our website as well.
If you do need to stay away from our worship services due to the risk of illness or being ill, please let us know. We want to be able to pray for you and we want to remain connected as a body while we make our way through this. We’ll be handing out cards this week (“Northgate Connects…”) reminding people of the various ways we can remain in fellowship, whether we are physically together or not.
While this virus poses a threat to people’s health, it also provides an opportunity for us as the church to show our faith and our love for others. We can do that by praying for one another and for our communities. The pastors will soon be sending out reminders to pray and suggestions for prayer on a regular basis, but of course we’ll be wanting to pray for an end to the virus; for God to protect the health of those most vulnerable; for those in the health professions who are treating the ill and for the church to show it’s faith and love to others. Remember 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on (God) because he cares for you.”
What else can we do? We can check on our neighbors and others we are concerned about. We can make a call and ask how people are and if there’s anything they need. We can pray with people. If you hear of a need in the community that Northgate can help meet, let us know. And ask God how he might like us to use this situation as an opportunity to point people to him. You will no doubt have the chance, as you talk to people about their concerns and fears, to tell them where you get your strength, peace and hope from. Use that opportunity to tell them about Jesus!
As things develop we’ll do our best to keep you informed about the impact and implications for our church. But throughout this we will keep putting our faith in the One who is over all, and who is with us through the Holy Spirit. Praise God for his abiding love and seek his mercy and protection. God bless,