Dear Lakewood Alliance Church Family,
In light of the emerging situation with coronavirus caused COVID-19, it is appropriate that we put plans in place as a church to help promote the welfare of our congregation, and particularly our most vulnerable members, to consider our presence in and ability to serve our community, and to prepare for potential government measures that could restrict public gatherings in the near future.
During this time, anxiety may be increased as people are uncertain of what is going to happen and how it will impact them. We continue to walk in the confidence of our good God, and want to be people of peace, service, and love. As such, this is an opportunity to elevate our level of prayer for and service to our community. Therefore, we want to model and encourage being a church that is praying for our city and those who are being impacted by COVID-19.
With regards to our Sunday morning gatherings, as we fall below the 250 person threshold established by the Provincial Health Officer for mass gatherings, we plan to hold our service this Sunday, March 15. We would ask that if you are feeling unwell, or have any of the risk factors that would place you at greater risk for complications related to COVID-19, please stay home. We will be videoing the worship service and posting it later in the day on Sunday. Please note that if too many of our kids ministry volunteers are unwell, we will have the kids up in the service, so you may want to consider bringing some quiet activities for them.
This coming week, we will be working to add a live-stream alternative for those who are unable to attend. For those who are coming, we are putting some things in place to try and maintain a safe environment including having our hospitality team hold open doors for you, installing hand sanitizer stations, asking that you greet with a wave rather than a handshake or hug, spacing our rows a bit more, and not passing the offering bags, but having them available after the service.
Our church is not a building, but people. Wherever two or three of us gather together, Jesus is present with us. Therefore, we encourage small groups to continue to connect with one another, whether in person, virtually, or communicating by phone or text to encourage and pray for one another. We’ll be leaving it up to individual groups & ministries whether to continue meeting in person or not at this time.
We encourage anyone who is sick or in need and would like prayer to call us at 250-564-8737 (feel free to leave a message), or by sending us an email to [email protected] or [email protected] We remain a community who prays and cares for one another. If you are not on our mailing list, please send us your information by email or phone so we can continue to communicate with one another.
Below is a prayer for this moment, a prayer I did not write but one I would encourage all of us to pray daily. May this be our heart as we continue to walk with and call out to our God during this season.
We come to you, God, as we are.
Not as we’ve heard we should be, not as we think we should be, not even as we hope we will be, but as we are.
So, some of us come with fear today…because of headlines on our screens about a new disease that seems to be covering the earth and stalking us. Others of us come with frustration and judgemental hearts…we confess an unloving over-reaction on our part to the seemingly over-reaction of a minority of others in culture.
We know of Your call to love and your command: “Do not fear”…and we confess that at times, both seem hard.
And we recognize that your call to not live in fear does not necessarily mean that everything’s fine or that everything will turn out fine. Perhaps it is a call to remind ourselves that our fear can be enfolded by something larger, something that is not global in scope, but larger than the universe. Something called love.
We confess that, because we live in such an unusual and amazing time in history, we’re not good at facing these kinds of global threats. We know that all of our ancestors—and a majority of the modern world—are more used to this sort of uncertainty and are much more familiar with sickness, lack of control, and death than we are. We acknowledge that our fear, and our lack of resilience, is actually because we live in a time of great circumstantial blessing, where the diseases that killed so many in our history are now largely managed with modern medication.
So, we say, “thank You”…and teach us.
We also acknowledge the gift that it is to live in Canada, with the wealth of resources that have been invested in our medical system, and the fact that it is available to all….and we pray for the parts of the world that would be devastated were this virus to hit them….where there is poverty, minimal health care, and very little social structure to be able to deal with this…God have mercy we pray.
We also pray for the many people who have been, and will be affected by the economic downturn that this virus is creating…for the billions of people in developing countries who live so close to the edge in terms of livelihood, for whom this crisis means the difference between eating simple food and not eating at all. Lord have mercy upon them.
And we pray for one another. We pray that our fear will not cause us to turn on one another, hoard our resources, or to quit caring for others and think only for ourselves. We think of Your church who lived centuries ago…who were known for the fact that as others were fleeing plague-ridden cities, they were marching in, in order to care for the sick, knowing that if they died, they would come alive again in the resurrection. And because of their courage, hope and sacrifice, others wanted to know about the God who inspired them. We wish we could be like them. We want to be like them.
Or, do we?
At the least, we aspire to be like that. And, so, if this does get bad, we ask that You fill us with Your Spirit so that Your Church will become known for its courage, hope, and self-sacrifice. What a story that would be…
So, in the end, we long for more than a lack of fear, Lord. We pray for hope, faith, courage, conviction, perspective, and compassion so we can be people who authentically bear witness to a larger, more beautiful story than the current story that is presently gripping our world. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.