Good morning Bethel Church Family,
We started a sermon series at the beginning of January called A Gospel Response in which we were looking at Jesus through the Gospel of John. As you may recall, there are two questions that we were trying to ask each week: who is Jesus, and how do we respond? Our recurring call as Christians is to keep those two things in the front of our minds and hearts: who Jesus is, and how do we respond to him and what he is saying and doing.
Though much of the future is uncertain, we know that the character of Jesus has not changed. He is not any less God, he is not any less good, we are not any less saved or less loved, and Jesus has not stopped working in our lives. In a time of so much uncertainty, this has not changed. As the book of Hebrews reminds us, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. All of the truths we’ve learned about Jesus to this point in our lives have not changed one bit, and this reminds us to anchor our souls to him.
Yesterday, the Executive Team met and discussed all sorts of different things about how we as a church will respond to this strange season we’re in. There were lots of details to discuss and different decisions that were made, and some decisions that will likely have to change as new information comes to light. Throughout this process, we will be following the recommendations of the local and provincial health authorities. We will work as a team to ensure we are as up to date as possible as new information and implement new guidelines as they are made. In light of this ever changing situation, we ask that you please check the website, Facebook, or your e-mail once a day or so in order that we can keep you as up to date as we can.
As of March 17th, this is how we will be responding as a church:
1. The church building will be closed for the next two weeks, until March 31st. This means that no programs or groups during the week may meet in the building. Our building is large which makes proper cleaning and disinfection difficult, if not impossible, so we have made the decision simply to close.
2. We will not be meeting as a whole church body for the next two Sundays (March 22nd and 29th). Instead, we will have an online option available before each Sunday so that you can worship in smaller groups in your homes! Pastor Jon is also planning to release some shorter video devotionals through the week. Again, this is a good reason to keep an eye on the website, Facebook, and e-mail!
3. As you consider whether and how to meet in smaller groups, we encourage you to exercise cautious wisdom. Do not live in fear of COVID-19 or walk in foolishness but instead use an abundance of wisdom and faith. Please particularly consider how you could minister to those you know who are vulnerable, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or financially, while also considering how you can keep them and others healthy.
4. We are working towards a plan on how best to meet the needs of our Bethel church family as well as our community. If you are in need of groceries or household products and are concerned or unable to go out, please let us know! Please let us know if there are other needs you have as well – we want to look for opportunities to be the church in this season.
5. If you willing and able to help, please let us know! We want to specifically find people who can:
a. Check in on people regularly, particularly by phone
b. Pick up and deliver groceries or household goods
6. We are hoping to have our new website up this week! Please keep an eye out for that as it will have specific information and resources available for this season.
7. One challenge is that there will be a significant economic impact for many people, so we as a church have the opportunity to meet needs as we encounter them. We have also committed as a church family to our annual budget. Please continue to worship through giving in this season. If you have the means, please consider giving a little more as there are those who will find themselves with less. You can give in the following ways:
Mail a cheque
8. COVID-19 brings many challenges as well as many opportunities. Remember, the church is not the building, the service, or the time – the church is the people and God is present in his church! As you hear the news, as you pray, as you worship, as you read your Bible, remember that you are still the church. In light of that, what opportunities might God be giving you personally? These could be:
Calling or texting someone who comes to mind to see how they’re doing
Sharing or, if you’re willing, able, and healthy, picking up groceries or supplies for someone you know is in need
Walking around your neighbourhood as you pray for our church, those around us, our province, our nation, and the world
Any other way that Jesus might be inviting you to walk with him
9. Set aside time each day to not just read but meditate on Scripture, to not just listen to a song but to worship God, and to not just say a prayer but listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. We don’t walk through this alone but together with each other and the presence and power of the almighty God.
In conclusion, please read and reflect on Hebrews 13:20-21:
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.