"God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control" (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Church Under Attack
The evil one is always seeking to attack the Christian church. He does so in every way imaginable. He stirs up opposition to the Christian faith and the persecution of the faithful in many parts of the world. He brings leaders in the church to shame which may lead people within and out of the church to lose faith and confidence and even reject the love of God in Christ. He takes advantage of worldly politics and has sought to bring division in the church through the lies which have been succumbed to by both conservatives and liberals in different ways that life itself is not sacred and valuable. And specifically in this moment in 2020 we are under attack through not only the coronavirus (COVID-19) but also the fear that comes along with the unknown and media-driven mass-hysteria in the days leading up to Easter.
Not a Spirit of Fear
Paul wrote to Timothy that God had given him all things necessary to go about the work of his mission; that he need not fear anything that he perceived could hinder the ministry. God is faithful. In Christ he is already victorious over the devil. God’s Holy Spirit, his presence dwelling in his people, does not enable unhealthy fear, but (1) the transforming power of the gospel, (2) the sharing of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and (3) the faithful living of the members of the church in self-control.
A Faithful Response
St. Christopher’s will not be paralyzed by the spirit of fear. There have been health scares in the past (SARS, H1N1) and they did not bring about the end of the world. We will get through this too. But we will do what is needed in order to uphold the value of human life and combat the possibility of an unnecessary spread of COVID-19 because of our life together. As our Archbishop has written to us on this matter, we will first trust God. He will lead us through and he is with us, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Our Gathering Together
We will not forego our weekly assembly. At this time (March 12, 2020), the plan is that from now until the beginning of Holy Week (April 5), we will pray together the office of Morning Prayer. This liturgy does not require of us the Peace or the coming into close proximity to form a line for Holy Communion. If you have had a fever or a cough, take two weeks of abstaining from church attendance. For those of us who do attend, let’s keep our hands washed with soap and water, spread ourselves out among the pews, and pray for all affected by COVID-19 as well as an end to it and the pain it has brought into the world.
Freshly Learning the Faith “Once for All Delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3).
I hope that through this time we will learn afresh and experience new aspects of the power and love found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and also ways in which we can live faithfully as we live-out and share this gospel in the world.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil 4:7).