The Church and Coronavirus

Greetings of grace to those whom God calls His holy ones in Christ Jesus.

As a church, we can say like the psalmist, “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.” (Psalm 46:1-2)

At GCCLB, we have often sung Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” That song was not written for the reformation. It was born out of trials in Luther’s life and in the city he pastored, Wittenberg. In 1527, a deadly plague, the Bubonic Plague, claimed the lives of many people. Luther was also close to “death’s door,” but determined to remain and serve those who were in need. Psalm 46 was the source of this great hymn, and the plague was one of the experiences that brought this historical song to life.

Here we are today, singing the same song, and are called now to keep trusting our God, who sent Christ His Son, to redeem us from our sin. This same Christ is preparing a place for us in glory that will never suffer at the hands of Covid and its long list of pathogenic viruses.

Over the recent weeks, with the news reports and the global concerns, it is necessary for us to address the virus as ministers of the gospel and not experts in the medical field (most of us anyway). Yet, both institutions do intersect at this stage because of the recommendations made by the state and CDC.

First, beloved, we are commanded to honor the institutions as long as they do not enforce anything that contradicts God’s word. That being said, the church has always been a stronghold in these times, a haven for truth and a place of comfort for those who are in fear. The church, standing confident in Christ, can declare to the world the frailty of life, but the faithfulness of our God which endures forever.

We can tell the world that our God rules graciously and powerfully over every cell, molecule, and radical viruses. There is not one single cosmic particle that He does not control.

And beloved, let us be reminded of the words of our Lord and Savior. He commands us not to be anxious (Matthew 6:25-34). Our God knows the number of hairs on our head. We do not know the number of hairs on our head. He cares for us. Once you have resolved to set your fear aside and cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you, decide what is best, that is, attending or staying at home. That decision is yours to make once you have resolved that you are not deciding based on media fear or inner fear, but in wisdom.

In these times be encouraged, beloved, our hope is in the Lord, we know He cares for us. We do not have to be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we can make our petition known to God (Philippians 4:6). “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Are you anxious about the virus? Are you anxious about life in general? Admit that anxiety to God and confess your sin. Let Him know that you are thankful that in these moments, He so kindly reveals your struggles and sins. The God of all comfort wants you to find your solace in Christ alone.

And finally (the Pauline way of saying, “I’m not done yet”), for those who will not attend corporate worship, we are working on a live-stream format. Pray for us; we would like for those who cannot attend to participate with us in some way.

I close with another historical gem from Luther. He determined that those who were weak were not wrong for leaving during the plague, and those who were strong were not wrong for staying. That, beloved, should be our resolve. We are called to be peacemakers and we will honor decisions made either way-with grace.

For some we may be like Luther who welcomed the dying into his home and preached Christ to the many who were at death’s door. The church, with its doors opened, can be a fortress of hope in a season when fear sells, faith is cast aside, and “fate” sets the course of our lives. We know that our God is in control and we can declare that to the world, whether at home due to our physical limitations or at Los Alamitos.

But none of this should be done without wisdom. So, prayerfully examine your hearts and make the best decision.
Yours in Christ,

Seymour Helligar
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