March 19, 2020
From the Pastor’s Desk…
This letter comes at a time and in a situation that none of us have experienced before in our lifetimes…
We find ourselves confronted with a worldwide crisis that is in fact affecting everyone in the world. In light of this we need to take the appropriate measures as believers in Christ in response as well as to respond collectively as the church. No matter the decisions that are made in this time there are some that will agree and some that will not, but we all need to keep the greater picture of life as a whole in perspective.
There are many in light of Covid-19, that believe we should live out in a bold faith and not worry about the virus because we have God on our side, and I agree, but that does not mean that we act rashly or foolishly in light of the circumstances, rather we live with wisdom and in discernment and with the hope that we find in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is not living in fear that should drive our response, but rather an abiding trust in the sovereignty of God that should fuel and guide our direction. Now more than ever we need to respond with a heart of love to our world, our nation, our community and our friends and family. The words of First Peter 3:15 hold true in this time and for this season:
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always be prepared to make defense (give an answer) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
And so we find ourselves needing an active response in the moment. Our response comes based on the foundation of God’s Word and we will uphold God’s truth in application to our lives. I have heard many stating the comfort that they find in reading Psalm 91 during these days and we do rest in the hands of Almighty God. As you read these words remember that there is a heart response that is needed as well, “to hold fast to God in love” (v.14). We must also be aware of other directions that God has given as well.
- In Numbers 5:2-4 – God instructed the use of quarantine
- In Proverbs 27:12 – we are told to act prudently
- In Philippians 2:3-4 – we are engaged to look to the interests of others and not be selfish but
- In Romans 13:1-7 – we are to subject ourselves to the government as they are under God’s authority, unless they are violating God’s direction in Scripture (Acts 5:27-32)
Be reassured, God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. God doesn’t guarantee perfect health, but we need not fear. He loves us and provides all things for our good according to His purposes. Be encouraged by the words of these verses:
- Romans 8:28, 31-39 - 1 John 4:13-18 - Proverbs 3:5-6 - Jeremiah 29:11
SO… How do we respond…
Upon meeting together with the Elders, here are some preliminary directions with the understanding that further response will take place as the situation warrants.
1) Until further notice all ministry related gathering under the ministry of Westside Alliance Church are suspended. We understand that the current gathering size as directed by the government is no more than 50 people, however we believe that we need to be diligent in these matters and be considerate of all people who are a part of our church as well as those we engage with in our community. This includes prayer meetings, men’s groups, college and career, women’s fitness, youth groups, etc…
2) Access to information and Sunday Services
We will be updating information through our church website. Audio sermons will still be available on the website and we are currently looking into a live streaming capability for video broadcast of the Sunday morning service. If you do not have access to the technology to make it possible for you to engage in listening or watching please let us know and we will assist as we are able.
The church bulletin will also be available online on the website: www.westsidealliance.com
The church office will maintain open hours from 9-12 on Wednesday and Thursdays. Please feel free to contact the church office by phone or email as we will regularly be checking messages. You may also contact the Pastor or any of the Elders for information. The contact info is on the bulletin.
3) Tithes and Offering
During this time if you wish to give your tithe or offering, you may do so by dropping it off at the church during office hours, or through the mail slot on the front of the church doors (it is secure). The option for electronic giving is also available through our website or by downloading the tithe.ly app (make sure it’s the green one) onto your electronic device. We do thank you for your faithfulness in giving and continuing to support the ministry of the church during this time.
4) Fellowship and Care
This is where we each have the opportunity to be the hands and feet together in the church. It is not the building that makes us a church, it is the people within. In this light I am asking that you set specific time to connecting with other people, and though during this time it may not be in the physical presence of others, there is still opportunity to converse together via telephone, Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook, Messenger and a host of other possibilities. It is good to be proactive in reaching out to others, and it is just as important to let others know when you are in a time of need. We may not be able to contact everyone all the time, but we can respond when we are aware of needs that are out there. One of the defining characteristics of our church is not just that we are friendly, but that we actually care. Between the Elders and myself we will be trying to connect with everyone on a regular basis, but you don’t have to wait to get in touch with us first.
We do have a Benevolent Fund available to help people in need of day to day items should the need arise.
Our response in prayer is two-fold.
One is make requests and needs known so that they can be prayed for by others. This can be done by contacting the church office or contacting Bonnie Sherwin with your request. You can also send the request directly by email which will go to the Pastor and the Elders as well: firstname.lastname@example.org . Not only do we want to hear your prayer needs, but send your praise items as well to email@example.com .
The second is to make sure that we do pray. In light of the regular prayer meetings being cancelled for the moment, please set aside a regular time of prayer throughout your day to pray. I am also encouraging a specific time of prayer each day at NOON, then you will know that you are joined in prayer with each other as a body with a chorus of prayer calling out to God. If you wish to be kept up to date on prayer requests within the church please contact Bonnie to be added to the prayer chain.
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to be the hands and feet of Christ as you engage with others in our community. As you see the needs of your neighbors see how you can meet them. As you think of your neighbors in isolation, reach out to connect with them. Serve in humility as unto the Lord not unto men, and give God the glory as hearts are drawn to Him. The world is in need of hope. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life… give them Jesus
We believe that there are four key areas that we need to address as outlined by the steps above that recognize the practice and presence of the church: Ministry of the Word, Breaking of Bread, Fellowship and Prayer. These can be maintained through each of us actively engaging together as the body of Christ.
A Time for Discernment – A Time to Pray
This is indeed a time to pray. There are four specific areas of prayer that we would ask you to keep in mind.
- Pray for God to give wisdom to the Leadership of our church in providing direction
during these times.
- Pray for discernment and for good governance by our government as they respond during
this time. Pray that they will turn to God and seek His heart as they lead our country.
- Pray for those that are currently affected by the Covid-19 virus and for those that have lost
loved ones. Pray for healing and for protection from it.
- Pray for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ to be revealed through the words and actions of the church and that many will choose to believe through this crisis
You may appreciate these words that I received in an email from Robert Lundy as he received them:
You might appreciate these words written by Martin Luther when a plague was ravaging the German people—he balances the responsibility to not contaminate our neighbours unnecessarily with the Christian’s calling to help a neighbour in need:
"I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus, perchance, inflict and pollute others and so cause their death by my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person I shall go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God." —Luther's Works: Volume 43, page 132.
A Time to Unite
As we continue in our theme for this next year, which is “ONE,” let us make every effort to maintain the bond of peace that has been established through Jesus Christ and unites us together as we long for His return and life in His Kingdom.
Pastor Jared Enns
”My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”