Dear Brothers and Sisters, Members and Friends, of Community Christian Church of Marana,
In the name of Jesus Christ, greetings to you. All of us sure have had a hard week, to say the least! Moreover, we don’t know whether or not things are going to get harder, perhaps much harder, in the weeks to come. But one thing is for sure: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” and He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:8,5)
I have been struggling mightily the past few days with this question: should the doors of our church be open this Sunday, or closed? In other words, should we continue on as normal, with some extra safety precautions? Or should we move to having worship on-line, and finding ways to connect other than our usual Sunday morning gatherings?
On the one hand, the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Moreover, throughout the Bible, there are over 350 times where people (and we) are told to not be afraid.
On the other hand, it’s not necessarily (and hopefully it isn’t) fear that would keep someone from coming to worship. It might just be wisdom! One of the Proverbs says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 27:12) In addition to this, we are being told by our nation’s president, as well as more local leaders, to “avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.” (The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America) And it causes me to consider what Paul wrote to the Romans: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)
The chair of our Elders Elizabeth Watts and I have spoken, sometimes more than once, to all of our church’s board members and Elders, and our Pastoral Assistant, Pastor Nacho. A variety of thoughts have been expressed about what to do. These thoughts have been well-considered, prayerful, and shared with great humility. We are so blessed to have gifted and faithful leaders in our church who care so deeply about our Lord and about you.
Having said all that, and with a troubled but trying-to-be-faithful heart, I want to let you know that we will not be gathering as usual on Sunday mornings for at least the next two weeks (March 22 and 29). Instead, God willing, we will:
1. have an on-line message posted by Sunday morning on Facebook and YouTube.
2. have other resources posted as well, including at-home Bible lessons you can do with kids and grand-kids.
3. be in touch with you by phone, for conversation, prayer, finding out your needs, etc. This will be done by our Elders and/or board members.
Also, I plan to continue working with our church’s leaders to improve the ways we are connecting and serving one another during this time. I already have a number of thoughts about this, so be on the lookout for further communication in the near future. Please contact me and/or your Elder if you feel called to help, or if you just need to talk and pray.
We are still the church, we are still the body of Christ, despite these challenges that we are facing. Indeed, we have an opportunity to have our faith strengthened, and our witness of Jesus’s love expressed shared even more broadly.
Do not be afraid. Be wise. God is good all the time; all the time, God is good!
In Christ, and with much love,
P.S. At this time, the church office is still open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am-2 pm, and Wednesdays from 10 am-3 pm. The door will be locked to provide staff with COVID-19 social distancing. Please knock and someone will be right with you. You can also contact the office by phone or email:
· 520-682-4201 (leave a message)
Messages will be responded to as quickly as possible. Thank you!