This Sunday will be one month since I first communicated with you about the Coronavirus. At the time we were monitoring the situation and encouraging different ways of greeting each other. We met together a few days later, not know that it would be our last public gathering until all this is over. But we have not stopped worshiping. We thank God that the technology has stabilized, and that many are receiving encouragement as we gather online around our common love for Jesus.
Tomorrow the governor’s executive order to stay home goes into effect. He has exempted religious services as essential and so, with appreciation, we will hold our worship service this week as we have been, with the worship team gathering in a reduced capacity. That said, my heart is to go the extra mile. I don’t want to take advantage of the exemption unless it’s absolutely necessary. To that end the worship team is exploring ways to lead worship from our homes. Pray for wisdom as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter in that capacity.
But like I said early on, being church is not just about holding worship services. It’s also about loving each other, and loving our neighbors. In times of tragedy, this love causes our hearts to become very heavy. And my heart is heavy with love these days. In Tuesday’s briefing the President said that the next two weeks will be very difficult as the death toll is expected to see a dramatic increase. As I write this, our own Hertha Kornhaus is hospitalized with Covid19 and fighting for her life. We are thankful that Harold is allowed to be at her side. As many have noted, this is a cruel disease that not only takes the life, but takes it in loneliness. As we grieve those who succumb to the disease, we also grieve our own loss of mobility in comforting them. How do we show love without leaving our homes? It often feels like prudence and compassion are at odds with each other.
The answer is: we call, we text, we send notes, and we pray. I am encouraged to hear that you all are checking in on each other. This is good. Love generously. Do for others what you would have them do for you. When we can’t “go be the church” we can still “be the church!” So, be the church.
Part of being the church is loving God together. Worship is the foundational expression of that love and the declaration of our hope. So we gather to raise our prayers and declare our praises together, even while confined to our homes. Worship and the preaching of the gospel are an essential ministry of the church, so we will continue to apply ourselves to that. This coming weekend we will again host the service three times: Sunday at 10am and 4pm, then again Tuesday at 8pm. I will be talking about hope. Please message a friend and invite them to watch with you at the same time. Just have them go to https://sarasotacommunity.online.church.
Love and prayers for you all,
Pastor of Sarasota Community Church since 2009.