Hi all, let me begin by saying I’m sorry it has taken this long to get
something to you. With the coronavirus response evolving so rapidly I
have composed this email several times then had to change the content in
light of new information.
First, despite being unable to use the middle school, God has provided a temporary space for worship: Hawkwood Games (50 Broad St, Milford, CT 06460) had graciously opened their shop to us and we will worship there at 10:30 am (please see details below).
In addition to its impact on our worship location and in the midst of rising concerns about COVID-19 I want to encourage you in the grace, comfort, and presence of God as your refuge in a difficult and confusing season. We can take great comfort in knowing that the Lord our God is King over all creation and also especially mindful of His people.
Psalm 46:1-3 is especially relevant: 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.
While we are placing our ultimate hope in our sovereign Lord we are also making every effort to make use of the common graces of God by taking the advice of the CDC, the CT Department of Public Health, and strengthening our commitment to a healthy church home.
We are deeply committed to assembling together for weekly worship in so far as we can do this in good conscience with your safety in mind. Based on current guidance from our session oversight, the CDC and the CT Department of Public Health, we plan to continue meeting for worship until otherwise noted, with a number of changes in our normal procedure. We want all church members to know that they have freedom of conscience to use their discretion as to whether to attend worship services or not.
The CDC has recommended that older adults or people with chronic medical conditions–and those who interact with high-risk individuals–should take additional measures to protect their health (see CDC Coronavirus Disease for a list of serious long-term health problems). If you are uncertain whether or not you are at increased risk, please call your healthcare provider and obtain a recommendation on the medical prudence to attend any church event. We continue to ask that anyone who shows any signs of illness (e.g. over 100.4 fever and cough, other flu like symptoms, especially a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or fatigue) NOT come to worship or any event that’s still meeting.
We are working on a livestream of the worship service and will make that available as soon as we have it worked out.
Temporary Changes to Meeting practices:
- Hand sanitizer will be placed at the entrance to the worship space and we encourage you to use it. We also encourage frequent hand washing with soap as this is more effective than sanitizer.
- We continue to encourage social distancing (seating gaps between chairs, no physical contact, etc). This extends to greetings: please wave, offer the Vulcan “live long and prosper,” etc. This will help remove the pressure of having to shake hands or hug and continue to promote healthy hygiene.
- We will suspend the hospitality table. Please feel free to bring your own coffee or tea in your own container from home.
- We will place bulletins in the basket and not have the greeter hand them out. Please only touch the bulletin you are taking.
- Collection baskets will be placed on a table to avoid human contact from passing.
- Those who prepare communion will wash their hands and then wear gloves; those administering communion will sanitize hands and use gloves.
- This week I will wear gloves to place bread in the palm of your cupped hands without touching your hand. An assistant wearing gloves will place an individual cup with wine (unless you ask for juice) in your hand, again without touching hands.
- We are suspending providing nursery for young children.
- We will not meet again as a community group this Sunday evening.
- We will postpone the commissioning service that was scheduled for the evening of March 22.
- I will be at Hawkwood Games at 9 to begin sanitizing in preparation for setup; musicians will coordinate what time they will practice; other setup, please take into consideration sanitizing and setting up in a new space.
Responding to Coronavirus as Individual ChristiansBe Wise: Practice good hygiene and cleanliness. If you
are sick, stay home, and take an abundance of caution. Regularly wash
your hands. Make wise decisions about travel and participating in large
events. Consult the City’s symptoms and preparedness page for more
information on how to prepare and be safe.
Be Calm: The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4 that in times of uncertainty and suffering we should be ‘“anxious for nothing.” This was not a platitude. When he wrote those words, he was following Jesus’ lead (Matthew 6.25-34) in reminding us that our hope in this world is not in human economies, or medicine, or technology, or cleanliness. Our hope is in Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth (Psalm 121). So, if you find yourself feeling anxious or afraid over the next few weeks, remember that the God who watches over you is a God who does not slumber or sleep. Moreover, He promises that He will watch over your life; your coming in and going out both now and forevermore.
Be thoughtful: Keep in mind that certain people will be impacted more than others:
- Be aware of those who may be “shut-in” and alone. Take a moment to think about people who might inadvertently become “invisible” and be intentional about reaching out to them.
- Be aware of our older generation and the risks that are more relevant to them as related to the virus. Be intentional about checking up with them.
- Be aware of our neighbors, especially those who may be alone and/or have special needs in this context. This is a moment when the love and mercy of Christ can shine through you!
- Local businesses can absorb losses from people staying home less than big national chains. If you are able buy stuff from them, do so.
- People who work on hourly wages and those who rely on tips will probably be hurt more than those on salary. If you can do so safely, go grab a meal at a favorite local spot and tip the server or bartender extra.
- Health care workers: lots of people will be showing up at hospitals etc. to be checked or treated. The nurses, doctors and support staff will be pulling multiple extra shifts. Write them notes. If they are close friends, bring them a dessert or something. Let them know how thankful you are for them.
Be Prayerful: Scriptures teaches that Prayer is action and when it is done through faith in Christ, the Lord can use it to move mountains and heal diseases. Therefore, let’s join together during this time to pray for the Lord to guide our officials, equip our medical professionals, comfort the sick, shield the healthy, and arrest this virus from causing more harm.
Historically, Christians have been known as people of love and compassion in times of disease and illness. When smallpox came to Rome most fled to the countryside, while Christians remained in the city to care for the sick and needy. When Romans evicted their infected loved ones out of their homes, Christians were the ones who invited them in to care for them. Of course, we want to proceed with caution and wisdom in the days to come. Yet, the Church has had some of her finest moments in situations like this. Let’s pray and look for opportunities to be the Presence of Christ in Milford, His means of responding with love and grace to this crisis.
Yours in Christ,