COVID19 Update (3/14/2020)

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Dear Church Family, 

As our country and our community faces the fear of the coronavirus epidemic, we have all witnessed fear, denial, questions, and frustrations. It’s times like these that it’s even more important for us as followers of Christ to look through the events of the world through the lens of Biblical Christian faith. Which is why, although at the end of this letter I will be outlining some of the steps and advice the session of Harbor has for our congregation, read the first half first.

On the one hand, it would seem from available data, that this virus has not been particularly deadly for younger generations (as of today there have been no deaths for children under the age of 9). On the other, the immune-compromised and the elderly (especially those with lung issues), have been hit with the worst (80+ death rate is a whopping 15%). The difficulty, according to experts, is that for some it may seem that they can carry the virus without having any symptoms, or even be contagious before showing any signs of sickness, unlike previous epidemics. The economic impact of the protective measures will most certainly be felt and impact all of us. Hoarding and shortages are already a face of life. Combine all of this together, and it can create for a lot of fear and panic, rightly or wrongly.

Paul writes to Timothy these words in 2 Timothy 1:6-8, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.” The Spirit that we have is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of fear. But how can I stop be afraid or worried? The verse outlines three things about the Spirit we have:

  • The Holy Spirit is a spirit of Power. There is nothing in all creation, including a virial epidemic, that can separate us from the love we have in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:28-32). Our hope is already secure in Christ, our hope is not in a cure for a virus, political or economic stability.
  • The Holy Spirit is a spirit of Love. Love for God, and love for others. I may not be vulnerable to a virus like this, but I ought to look for ways to serve others in what I do; take precautions, check on my neighbors, even risk exposer for the sake of caring for others. This is something I alluded to in a sermon a while ago about Christians who risked being exposed to smallpox in ancient Rome that had an effect on the populace for their selflessness.
  • The Holy Spirit is a spirit of Self-Control. Loving others will mean putting our own preferences and desires aside to serve others. You will have a LOT of inconveniences because of this epidemic. Be satisfied in God rather than seeking satisfaction in getting what you want.

Above all, as verse 8 points out, suffering is an opportunity to showcase the Gospel, and that we can only do this by the power of God. Lean into Him. Lean into one another. 

With all this in mind, the session of Harbor Church has put in place the following measures and urges the congregation to consider some of the points of advice:

For the Service:

  1. We are NOT canceling our worship services and some of our regular programs, but we will be modifying them to keep as many people safe 
  2. The Quarterly lunch to take place this Sunday (3/15) is canceled
  3. All Refreshments will be canceled for the foreseeable future 
  4. Sunday school will be canceled until further notice
  5. Nursery will be canceled until further notice
  6. We will not serve communion until further notice
  7. We will not pass the offering plate down the aisles but will have a deacon hold a plate at the end of the service in the back
  8. We will be working diligently to keep the facilities as clean and sanitized as possible

Advice:

  1. We ask that if you are experiencing any cold-like symptoms that you refrain from attending services, and that if you are in the higher-risk categories (70+, immuno-compromised, or have a history of lung conditions) that you consider staying home
  2. Try to refrain from hugs, hand-shakes and the like 
  3. Check on each other using phone, text, email.
  4. Check on your neighbors. This is an opportunity to show the gospel to others. Do your neighbors needs something? Are kids being cared for? 
  5. Consider what you can GIVE UP for each other rather than hoard away things others need. Share with one another. 
  6. Pray, pray, pray, and don’t give into fear. 

In Him

Pastor Michael Colvard