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March 12, 2020 

To Our Dear Bethel Family, 

I grew up enjoying the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and always found it to be a good reminder of God’s daily grace given to me. It was only later in my life that I came across the verse from which it was taken: Lamentations 3:22-26. It says this: 

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 
  for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
  great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; 
  therefore I will wait for him.” 

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, 
  to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly 
  for the salvation of the LORD. 

This is a beautiful passage and is captured well by the song. However, the rest of Lamentations is quite surprising. It is a book about Jeremiah experiencing dark and difficult times, and it is in the middle of the chaos that he is reminded of God’s faithfulness. 

There has been a great deal of disturbing news these days. As you’ve likely heard, COVID-19 is having a significant impact across the globe and we’re not quite sure of all that will happen. We could easily see this as a “dark and difficult” season where we may worry and wonder whether we’ll be OK. If that is the case, I would encourage you to remember that God is faithful. He was faithful before COVID-19, he will be faithful after COVID-19, and he will walk with us faithfully through COVID-19. 

In these coming weeks, we will do our best to act with faith and wisdom as a church. We will be meeting as Executive & Ministerial to put some policies in place for how we as Bethel Church can prepare for what may come in the future. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself and others: 

   1. If you are sick with flu like symptoms (fever, respiratory issues, runny nose, etc.), please stay home until you’re better for at least 24 hours. (One way to know if you’re actually “better” is if you don’t have any symptoms for 24 hours and you aren’t taking medicine for those symptoms.)

   2. Keep in mind that you might not be too sick and it might not affect you too heavily, but it might be much worse for someone else if you infect them!

   3. Wash your hands well and regularly. Use hand sanitizer if possible.

   4. Try to avoid touching your face, even if you find it soothing. It will help keep the germs on the outside of your body, where they belong.

   5. Think about social distancing. This means to try and avoid getting close enough to someone that you could catch something from them. Be mindful of hugs, handshakes, or the like. If you need alternatives to a handshake, please talk to Greg Zibin – he has some good ideas.

   6. Be wise with what rumors you share or articles you post on social media. Misinformation and germs spread easily and are dangerous, so please do your part to stop the spread of both! 

As a reminder, God is still in control. Yes, we don't know how COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives or if and how it will spread. Given what is known, it seems just a matter of time before it does start to affect people we know. If and when this happens, God is still in control. God’s faithfulness is new every morning. Whatever happens, we walk with Jesus. If you are concerned about COVID and want to talk to someone, please reach out to us and someone would be happy to pray with you! 

As the people of God, we trust in his character. We want to be people of faith, and we also want to be people of wisdom. As I mentioned on Sunday, we trust Jesus, but we also wear our seatbelts. Wearing a seatbelt is not an expression of fear or a lack of faith but the presence of wisdom in our lives. COVID-19 is not something to be afraid of; we trust God and we wash our hands. We do not walk in fear or in foolishness but in faith and in wisdom. Here are ways we can live out our faith in the coming days: 

   1. Pray & worship. Worship reminds us about God’s character and renews our trust in him and prayer invites him to move in our lives, the lives of those we love, and in the world at large. We are not just people living lives on our own, but we are the people of God and that should impact even how we view COVID-19. 

   2. During the week, take time to phone, text, e-mail, FaceTime, or message each other. We want to be a welcoming church so let’s work to share the love of Jesus across the social distance created by social distancing. 

   3. Believe into Jesus. Trust him more and more with each moment of each day. Whatever happens, we know that we are not foolish to believe that he is who he says he is and that he will do what he says he will do. 

Let me close with the same verse from Lamentations as a reminder that God’s faithfulness is a sure and steady foundation, even in dark and difficult times. I encourage you to avoid foolishness and fear and walk in faith and wisdom knowing that: 

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 
  for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
  great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; 
  therefore I will wait for him.” 

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, 
  to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly 
  for the salvation of the LORD. 

Pastor Jon