Dear Church Family,
While we have heard much about the Coronavirus for a number of weeks now, the last few days have brought a seemingly endless stream of breaking news regarding the pandemic. These headlines are starting to hit close to home, and decisions are being made that affect our schedules and routines. Justified or not, these decisions to restrict access to places or events are in many ways unprecedented, at least in recent history. In other words, we are in uncharted waters, at least according to our experience. Oftentimes, navigating uncharted waters brings fear, especially when we know there is a dangerous, invisible, enemy out there.
We are not the first congregation to send a note like this to its parishioners. As I’ve read what other pastors have written, a common thread has emerged. Many have quoted Psalm 46 to encourage and comfort their people. That Psalm says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling…be still, and know that I am God.” God is in sovereign control of whatever chaos is shaking us, He is with us, and He is our best and final source of peace and stability, no matter what is happening. May that glorious truth bring you comfort each day!
With that in mind, here are some practical considerations for us as we consider how to react to all this news:
1. Pray. Ask God to protect us and our neighbors all over the world.
2. Take care of yourself. You’ve heard so much of this already. Wash your hands thoroughly. Clean your living and working spaces. Take medicine as needed.
3. If you are sick, stay home. Remember that even if you feel like you can go somewhere, you may infect someone else who has a weaker immune system.
4. If you or a family member has an immune system that is otherwise compromised or suppressed, I encourage you to consider staying home on Sunday mornings for a few weeks. We will miss you, but we care about your health and safety too!
5. If someone is in need, find a way to help them, and do so without fear. Remember that God is in control and He has called us to love and serve our neighbor. I’m not saying you won’t get sick. But we find great comfort in the truth that God is with us in troubled times and even death itself can’t undo that promise!
Many of you have been asking about upcoming events at St. Paul’s and whether we will cancel anything. Right now, we are not planning to change our schedule in any way. However, I would encourage you to check your email regularly, as well as our website and Facebook page for any changes. In the meantime, we will be making a few minor adjustments within our regular Sunday routine to limit contact with others. As far as your participation in any activities at St. Paul’s, please feel free to use your God-given common sense and good judgment. Remember that you can always listen to our sermons online. Maybe it’s true that there is no risk in Fargo right now either. At this point, you are free to make that decision for yourself.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 701-388-8218. It looks like Pastor Ward and I will be making fewer visits in the next few weeks, especially to those in long-term care facilities. However, if a particular need arises, please let us know, and we will do everything we can to serve you as best we can, as is always our desire.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!