COVID-19: Our Plan
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
It is an unprecedented time in our world, including in our church community. These are days that will be talked about and remembered for the rest of our lives. It feels like the world is shutting down, like every aspect of “normal” life is being interrupted and driven to a stop. These days are unbelievable, they are unprecedented, they are scary.
On March 17 our national leaders informed all churches that we would have a mandatory cancellation of all public gatherings for at least the next three weeks. For some it feels like our church is closing. It isn’t.
I want to briefly outline for you the plan of our parish as we seek to follow Jesus through this storm. And the plan, unsurprisingly, is the same plan it has been before any of us had heard terms like coronavirus, social distancing, or self-isolation. Our plan is simple: to praise, pursue and proclaim Jesus as Lord, while stuck at home.
Every ministry of our church will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We can no longer meet in-person for the foreseeable future. But we can still praise God, we can still follow Jesus, and especially in this time of fear, we can proclaim the hope we have in him.
But how? Here is a brief outline of our plan to continue our ministries as a church.
1. Praise Jesus from Home.
We will never stop ceasing to praise God for His good news brought through His Son. Normally, we do this as a group every Sunday, through singing, praying, hearing God’s Word read and taught, and enjoying the sacraments. In this exceptional season, it will need to look different. Here are a few suggestions.
We will be releasing online Morning Prayer services every Sunday, one in Chinese led by Rev. Fong, and another in English led by Rev. Ley. These will be simplified services of prayer, bible reading, and a short teaching. In the English service people will be encouraged to participate at home through pausing the service video and taking time to sing, pray, and study God's word. At home on Sunday mornings, get your musical loved one to play an instrument – or everyone grab an instrument if you are musical. If you aren’t musical or live alone, praise God by listening to your favourite hymn on youtube, or singing along karaoke style! Take time to pray alone or with others - either in person or over the phone. Don't just hear God's Word, study it. Through these online services, be creative as you worship, either alone or as a family. As a church we will not cease to praise Him.
2. Pursue Jesus from Home.
This is perhaps the most poignant moment in many of our lives to make a choice to follow Jesus. Through sickness, anxiety or isolation, many of us will find we have more time at home than we know what to do with! Fill that time not with mindless activity or unnecessary panic, but rather by drawing closer to Jesus. Here are seven suggestions:
1. Pray. Develop a routine of prayer. I recommend trying to pray first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. The Anglican Prayer Book has morning and evening prayer services (they are available online, and we will work on posting daily morning & evening prayers for you to follow at home). Write down all the names of the people you are concerned about, and pray for them.
2. Obey local authorities. We ought to submit to the health and government officials the Lord has put over us. Keep up to date on the latest recommendations and instructions, and follow them. This is a form of discipleship and worship. We should strive to be the most responsible citizens and serve as an example for everyone else.
3. Get into the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say to people who are living in darkness, experiencing the dread of the shadow of death. During the COVID-19 pandemic, get into Scripture. Find a daily rhythm. Use the Anglican lectionary of morning and evening readings to get through the Bible, or use the psalms lectionary or the psalter in our prayer books.
4. Keep a journal. These days are historic. It will benefit you and your faith to keep an honest journal through this time. It is important for our mental and spiritual health.
5. Love our neighbours. Our neighbours are scared, and they do not have the hope that we do. Love them. If you have elderly neighbours, finally introduce yourself and ask if there is anything you can do for them. Get their phone number and call them before you go to the grocery store. Don’t ask them to pay you back. This is our chance to extend the love of Christ to the people he has put closest to us.
6. Love one another. There are many people in our church who are elderly or live alone. They need care. They need connection. They need people calling them, serving them, praying for them. Draw closer to the people in our own church family. Let’s love one another more deeply.
7. Read good books. Perhaps the discipline that the Holy Spirit has used in my life to draw me close to God more than any other has been reading fantastic Christian books. Here are some suggestions of the greatest hits from my library, and I will gladly lend them to you if you want (I can drop them off at your door).
3. Proclaim Jesus from Home.
Do you believe that this is our generation’s golden moment for evangelism? It is.
Our world has been thrown down by this crisis. All the worldly securities and idols people build their lives on are being dismantled and crumbling under their feet. People are scared. They have no hope. They see no security, no safety. This is our moment to embody the love of Christ to those around us living in darkness. Love your neighbours – pray for them, cook for them, do their grocery shopping. Encourage people who are scared. Pray for our world. This crisis is an opportunity for us to share the hope we have with gentleness and respect. Be prepared in every circumstance to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ, and embody him in how you live.
This is an unsettling time, but it is also a time of great opportunity. Instead of giving in to the panic of society, develop new habits of praising, pursuing and proclaiming Jesus as Lord. That is what our church plans to do.