God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). As the community hysteria and chaos surrounding the coronavirus is going on all around you (we now have bus loads of “supermarket tourists” arriving in regional towns from Melbourne and stripping shelves), now is a good time to sit quietly and meditate on 2 Timothy 1.7. Already some of our sister churches have closed their doors and will only have services using online technology and other pastors have told me they will soon follow suit.
My responsibility as your pastor is to jointly see to your spiritual nourishment alongside your physical health and wellbeing. It is true that the face of this pandemic is changing daily and wreaking havoc in many circles including sport, public gatherings and community supply. Robyn and I had dinner last night, then we sat and shared a psalm with each other. She shared psalm 37 and I psalm 46, and there is one admonition from that I wish to share with you in the face of all this: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46.10).
While each pastor is responsible before God to follow their conscience and best judgement at this time of uncertainty and constantly changing landscape, I will be staying with the decision I announced to the church last week. We will be holding services as usual this weekend and for the foreseeable future. I can think of only two circumstances in which we will close the church and look to other means of providing your spiritual nourishment:
- If a church member or attendee tests positive to the virus, we will be required by law to self-isolate and close the church
- Should the Government direct all churches to close. This situation is happening elsewhere in the world already and may well happen here in Australia depending on the rate of new infection per day.
I want to assure you that your pastoral team is well aware of our public hygiene responsibilities, we take them seriously and they will be implemented. In order to assist us, what you can do, in line with World Health Organization and Australian Government guidelines, is to avoid shaking hands/hugging/kissing and to maintain the recommended separation of 1.5m. Other than that, let’s just trust God who has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.