On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency effective March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 (“new coronavirus”) outbreak in the United States. This declaration, and other rapid developments, are having dramatic effects upon our operations and activities here at Central. In addition to our desire to cooperate and fully comply with these laws and regulations, we are concerned about the safety and security of our members and guests. We have had to deal with some issues never considered before.
Last week, all Friends Day activities, and all services were canceled, as well as all activities at the church building such as ladies’ classes, teen devotionals, meetings, etc. A morning and evening pre-recorded complete worship service was live-streamed, and all members were encouraged to participate therein. Although a pre-scheduled funeral was conducted on Wednesday, it was closed to the general public, open to immediate family only, and live-streamed.
At this writing, it is recommended by the President that no gatherings of more than 10 people should occur, and local restaurants have been closed to dine-in service. All public schools, theaters, gymnasiums, and other venues of public gatherings have been closed in our area. The stock market has suffered record losses, and several major industries suddenly find themselves in financial peril. Seniors are advised not to leave their homes, and the possibility of some form of curfew or shelter-in-place looms in the near future.
These are extraordinary times, filled with uncertainty and change. We do not know how events will unfold, but the next several weeks could be most challenging. These things being true, it is crucial that we keep several fundamental principles in mind during this time:
- Remember that God is still on the throne. God is in control of this universe, and we are going to continue to do all we can do to serve and live for him. He is able to see us through this or any other emergency. Remember that “all things work together for good” to them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose, (Rom. 8:28). The “kingdom of God and his righteousness” still deserve first place in our lives, (Mt. 6:33). God still loves you, and very much cares about the trials through which you are passing. He is watching closely.
- Focus your energy on helping others. Don’t think just about yourself. Older family members and senior members of the church need assistance. They are at special risk at this time, particularly if their immune systems are already weekend or compromised. Take a few moments and think about the elderly people in your life. Give them a call to check on them. They may need deliveries, medical assistance, home maintenance or just reassurance.
- Spend some special time in prayer and meditation with God’s word. With schools and many businesses closed, this may be an ideal opportunity to spend some special time in careful thought and prayer. Stay close in the word of God. This would be a good time to check out the church website, not only for live-streaming, but for the many other Bible resources there. Stay informed, but don’t allow yourself to be consumed with the news – spend some time in prayer and study. Now is the time to have that family devotional together!
- Maintain a good attitude. At this writing, in those areas first hit by this virus, there is already evidence of tremendous improvement. This is no time to lose heart, or to panic. It is not a time to lose patience with each other, or forget about common courtesy. Remember that “love sufferers long and is kind,” (1 Cor. 13:4). Be prudent and responsible, and don’t overreact. With God’s help, we will get through this together.
We are living in a challenging time. I never thought I would attend elders meetings where we would have to discuss canceling services due to a virus. Or practicing “social distancing.” I never imagined having to schedule a funeral but preventing the general public from attending. Or preaching to a camera in an empty auditorium. It makes me appreciate the trials of our forefathers. It makes me love God and our brethren more. And it reminds us that we are all totally dependent upon a loving God!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.