March 19, 2020
Dear Family of Palisades Community Bible Church,
I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to talk about the impact of coronavirus. We are all experiencing disruptions in our daily lives, and many churches are finding it necessary to adapt their services to support online viewing. Because of the situation, I have taken counsel with our Elders and we want to share with you some very important announcements.
First, we are canceling public worship and church services starting Sunday the 22nd through Sunday the 29th. There will be no Sunday School, no Prayer Meeting, no Sunday Night groups, no Men’s, Ladies’, and all other Bible studies through this time. As the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continues to evolve, we want to assure you, that we are monitoring the situation closely. However, we do so from a position of faith and trust in our heavenly Father and not from fear. Our greatest concern at this time is for the health and safety of you, our church families, and all the community friends that we want to be a “light” testimony towards. We want you to know we are here to support you, and I (Pastor) will be trying to make more phone calls and email “visits” to keep in touch and share prayer needs. I will be keeping my office hours through these next two weeks. If you or anyone you know is in need of someone to go and shop for you, let me know; there are a few of us who will run and get your needed supplies, and drop them off at the door, as you instruct, so we can keep contact as low and minimal as possible.
Second, during this time, we don’t feel we have the resources to stream services as many of our fellow churches around us do. We do want to encourage you to take advantage of church ministries online, or on television. I keep sharing with my fellow pastor friends: “We are complimenting each other, not competing with each other.” There are so many good preachers who will help encourage you while we are off for Sunday service. Have you noticed the trend that is occurring in Italy, and New York City, and other places which are under strict quarantines? It’s the joy of people who start singing songs out the windows, and the whole street fills with songs. I want you to think about how we can keep “singing God’s songs of praise to one another!” I encourage you to listen to praise music, and call and text others personally to let them know you are praying for them.
Third, I want you to know that during these next two weeks, we will be sending three things to each attender and family of Palisades Community Bible Church. We will be sending a small devotional on prayer from the Book of Nehemiah as a Bible study help to each of you. This will be sent every Friday online through email, and for those who do have not computer access, we will send them out in the mail. You can be watching for it. I also know many of you prefer mailings on paper, so we will do our best to get that out to you. The second item we will send out to all of you is my Partners in Prayer. I am going to save the messages on “Counter Culture” until after Easter. But the issues of Partners will have various devotional and prayer encouragements to get us prepared for Easter. The last item we will be sending, is a revamped prayer sheet. We want to give you current prayer items. If you have names or prayer requests you want to add, please contact Sheryl or myself before Thursday each week to update the prayer sheet. So these three things: sermon devotional, Partners in Prayer, and prayer sheet will keep coming to you by mail and electronic email. We will also post them to the church web site.
Lastly, what will we do about Easter? So far, we pray that things will improve and we will hopefully begin services on April 5th for Palm Sunday and also April 12th for Easter. We will monitor how things are going. We will be praying and letting you know if we think it is safe to have Easter breakfast by then. Also, we may not have Sunday School or Son-rise, and have one large 10:30 outdoor worship service. We will just prayerfully play this by ear.
So let me give you some encouragement that a Pastor friend has sent me concerning C.S. Lewis. When the Nazis were blitzing London, Christian author C. S. Lewis dealt with “fearing our future.” As you read it, what could it have to do with today?
“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.'”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.” (C. S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays)
Dear PCBC, this life can be pretty scary at times. Who knows what’s going to happen with our government? With drugs, morals, terrorism, the economy or all kinds of other issues? If our finances are tight or one of our children is going through a crisis, we can be tempted to fear and be preoccupied with the future. It’s so easy to become obsessed with the future. To be fearful for the future. To only think about what could happen.
“Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Mt. 6.34).
Jesus does not say we should not plan for tomorrow, but not to be anxious, worried or fearful about it. If we are anxious about tomorrow, we are really saying that God won’t be there, He won’t be faithful, He won’t supply grace. But for believers in Jesus, our Heavenly Father will supply grace, and strength and all we need. So rather than being anxious, cast your cares on Him, ask Him for whatever you desire, and thank Him for the grace He will supply. One of my favorite passages is Habakkuk 3:17-19:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.”
Habakkuk says that even if everything else dries up, his joy is in God. He describes a total famine – no figs, no fruit on the vines, dead fields, no flocks, no animals in the barn. But his focus is not on all he lacks but on his God – he says even if all these other things are gone, he’ll have joy, because his joy is in the God who saves him. His material goods aren’t his strength – his God is.
Jesus would have you tend to today. What does he want you to do today? Ask Him for grace and wisdom to help you serve and glorify Him today. Cast your cares on Him. Ask Him to fill you with joy in Him. Thank Him for His faithfulness. His peace will guard your heart and mind.
So are you fearful for the future? Take heart. God’s got this, loved ones at Palisades Community Bible Church. God’s got this!
If you need us, call! The doors will also be open from 9:00am through 5:00pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, if you want to stop through and pray in silence and alone!
Love you all,
Pastor Corvin <><