By now you will probably be aware of advice given by our government yesterday regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst other things, they discouraged ‘non-essential contact’ in gatherings ‘large and small’, and in this context the Health Secretary explicitly mentioned religious gatherings in the House of Commons.
See 1:40:26 in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCt5-jrH5Gc&feature=youtu.be&t=6019
As believers, we want to protect the vulnerable, love and encourage one another, and be model citizens to those around us. Peter calls believers to, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the king.” (1 Peter 2:17). In extraordinary times like these, it is therefore not sinful to not physically meet together, as it would normally be (Heb 10:24-25).
We are therefore writing to inform you that all Sunday and Midweek gatherings will cease for the foreseeable future. We will continue to monitor the government’s advice and keep you updated as to what we are doing as a church.
In the light of this:
1. We want to pray
It is wonderful to remember that God is our refuge, and so we can call out to Him for ourselves, our nation, and our world. The Bible speaks of events like these being reminders that we live in a world under the curse, and that we should be moved to repentance (Luke 13:1-5) and faith in Jesus. Please therefore pray:
a. That God would be glorified in our lives, and in those around us.
‘“Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come..”
b. That he would provide, particularly for those who are vulnerable, isolated, and fearful.
Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.”’
2. We want to encourage one another
We will upload our sermons as videos to ‘replace’ the morning service onto our YouTube channel. To get to the channel, you can either type the following into your browser https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPOahN-Mluf-YRozppPFZ8g or you can go onto YouTube and search ‘Christ Church Fetcham’. I hope these videos will be helpful to a wider group than just our church family, and so they will be shared on social media as well as our website.
We will aim to produce resources that will provide those with children help in continuing to teach them the gospel at home.
In addition, we will also start a church blog where we will upload helpful resources to continue feeding us throughout the week.
We would love this to be a joint effort going forwards, so if you have ideas of good resources to share or other ways in which we can help and encourage each other, please be in touch with me.
We also want to encourage and support one another through our home groups. If you are already an active member of a home group, then please do particularly think about how you can encourage and support fellow members via email, phone calls, texts, social media etc, particularly those who will be isolated and vulnerable. You could even use a format such as Zoom (https://zoom.us) to have a conference call. Whilst we will seek to organise some of this, we would encourage as much ‘organic’ support as possible.
If you are not currently a member of a home group and you are in need of particular support, please be in touch and we will seek to connect you with someone to help.
3. We want to love our neighbours
It’s strange to say it, but it is out of love for our neighbours that we are heeding the advice of our government to isolate ourselves in this way. Whilst many of us are fit and healthy, the point is that we don’t want to be those who spread the virus to those who are not (as has happened in other churches in parts of Asia). In the light of this, we would encourage you to model good citizenship by following the government’s regularly updated advice yourself. This can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
In particular, please:
- Make sure you’ve spoken to someone before you go and visit them to check whether they are self-isolating.
- Do not visit anyone in a care home.
- Bear with us as we seek to set up a care team in the coming days.
- Contact Jon Herring or Ian Sneller if you have any pastoral needs. Specifically, if you experience financial difficulties in the coming days, please speak to one of us.
- If you are self-isolating, please let us know so we can care for you.
- As you are able, look out for your geographical neighbours, particularly those who are vulnerable and isolated. Why not drop a note through your neighbours door to say they can contact you and to help them get shopping or for a chat etc.
This could be a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know and serve our neighbours for God’s glory in a unique way.
This is going to be a hard time for many, and we do not know for how long these measures are going to last. We do know that we serve a sovereign God, that we look forward to a world without suffering, sin, or death, and that Jesus’s words are still as true today as they ever were:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30