March 13, 2020
Dear Rockford Reformed Church Family and Friends,
Our leadership has decided to cancel our Sunday worship service and various group gatherings into at least next week. While we labored over this decision last night, it has become clear that we should honor the governor’s executive order to cancel all events over 250 people and do our part to mitigate the virus’ quick spread into our community and thus strain/overwhelm our medical community. This means that for next week, there will be no gatherings for anyone on Sunday or Wednesday evening and the Youth Garage Sale is postponed. Check our website/emails for news about other smaller gatherings. And then our consistory is scheduled to meet again next week Thursday about the renovation project and so we will at that time also evaluate how to proceed for the week(s) following.
You don’t need me to add to the plethora of information about how to protect yourself but we especially encourage our elderly church family members to be careful to protect themselves by reducing their exposure as much as possible—including the routine gatherings that you enjoy with the fellow church members. Many of you express how you hate to miss even one worship gathering and you can probably tell that I am often like a racehorse in the gate ready for worship. I hate this.
But, on Sunday by 10 AM, we will all still have an opportunity to be refreshed and encouraged with God’s Word for these crazy, anxious times as we will provide a link (via email/website) to a recording of my sermon and links to some worship songs. In much the same way that you might gather for a family movie, you are encouraged to gather for family worship, talk about the sermon, and listen to or sing with the songs. Or you could do the same with your Life Group or other friends (while observing the suggested means for protecting yourselves as well).
What is God doing by allowing this virus to wreak such havoc with our world, the economy, jobs, education, and daily routines? At the very least, it is a test for us and the church. The real sources for our trust, rest, peace, security, joy, and hope are sometimes exposed when we turn anxious or afraid. Psalm 121 wonderfully outlines where our help comes for a season like this. Take some time to let the screens go dark to “be still and know that I am God.”
We are also tested by whether we push outward with love, care, and a radar for those in need while others are in retreat and hunkering down with self-preservation. How can we put the beauty and love of Jesus on display? Let us know when you see opportunities that we as a church can respond to your neighbors and in our community.
We also want to wonderfully care for each other through these times. Our communication will be especially important while we are physically distanced from each other. Some of you may develop financial, physical, or other needs during this stressful season and we encourage you not to hesitate to inform the elder/deacon of your care group. If there is someone who tests positive for the virus, please let Laura or me know so that we can quickly/appropriately respond. If you are struggling through anxiety or fear, I or your elder would be glad to connect/visit with you.
Please pray for our leaders as we work to respond, adjust, and communicate for this rapidly changing landscape. I am deeply grateful as many of you pray for and encourage me through these stressful days. Pray particularly as I present the gospel in a way that addresses our needs for this season. Pray for his grace, peace, and love to be revealed in and through us—for his glory!
Note: A separate email will be sent out shortly letting you know who your elder/deacon team is and their contact information. If you do not receive this email, you can reply to this one to get that information.