COMPASSION > COVID

 

Dear Church Family,

 

We are shifting our Sunday gatherings and Ecclesia Communities to digital spaces for the next three weeks beginning this Sunday, March 15th at 10:30 AM. I will provide detailed information about our digital gathering on Friday. We’ve all witnessed as unprecedented events have enveloped not only the digital worlds of our news feeds but now our collective shared spaces like public transportation, college campuses, and now, church gatherings. It is the height of irony that the COVID-19 pandemic has both revealed to us the intricacy with which we are globally interwoven and has, at the same time, called for us to distance ourselves from one another. We belong to one another, or as Jesus said, the greatest commandments are to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength and to love one another (Matt. 22:27-39). 

 

Love, in this moment takes on three distinct shades. First, we must cooperate with local health officials who are telling us the best way to care for our neighbors who are elderly or immuno-compromised is to avoid gathering in large groups like that of our Sunday morning gathering. We do this not out of fear, but out of an abundance of love, love that lays down our preferences for our neighbors (Philippians 2:1-11). Love that may save a life. 

 

Second, we must continue to seek one another out, to check in on needs, to buy groceries and supplies for each other. If you are a part of an Ecclesia community, that is a great place to start. If you are not, we are here for you. 

 

Third, we must look to the needs of our neighbors. Who around you is going to be hurt by limited access to childcare, who are the food insecure among us? All of these things will only be magnified by the uncertainty of the coming days. Ecclesia is coordinating with the food pantry that we serve and Princeton Public Schools. I want to encourage you to continue to give to Ecclesia as we resource these and other efforts and to maintain our ministry efforts doing these chaotic days. We can do much more collectively than we can do individually.

 

There is no manual for these days. But we don’t need a manual, we have the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). It will be tempting to hang on every refresh of our phones but  I want to encourage you towards proper self-care. First, identify a couple of trusted news sources and discipline yourself to check them once or twice day and make time to exercise. Second, adopt some new spiritual practices. As you wash your hands, say the Lord’s Prayer. Read the Gospels. And pray. Pray for:

 

    - Health care workers

    - Governmental authorities

    - Food insecure

    - Hourly wage workers and small business owners

    - Those whose childcare evaporates

    - Teachers and students

    - Pray for the leadership of Ecclesia

 

Third, give. I know it may sound strange in days of scarcity, but we are a loaves and fish people. We dwell in the abundance of God and our call is to share that with others. 

 

The church is not going anywhere, not packing up and leaving during a crisis. Now is the time more than ever, to be the church. But we have to do that with great wisdom and caution. Not out of fear but out of love for our neighbors. Jesus’ cross was the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18) and as people of the cross, we pursue how God is calling us to lay down our lives in this moment, that the world might be healed. 

Grace and Peace,

Ian Graham

Ecclesia, Lead Pastor / Church Planter

©2019 Ecclesia Inc.

 

ian@ecclesianj.com609.474.0435