As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, we have a great opportunity to demonstrate our difference from the world (the topic of this coming Sunday’s sermon passage in 1 John).

This means that we exhibit peace in the midst of panic because we know him who is from the beginning (1Jn. 2:13,14). So many passages of Scripture come to mind that call us not to be anxious (i.e. Ph. 4:6-7), not to be worried (i.e. Lk. 12:29), not to fear but find refuge in God (i.e. Ps. 46:1-2), etc…

We are ultimately not even afraid of death (i.e. Ph. 1:21; Heb. 2:15). And we have the message that can rescue people from eternal death (i.e. Jn. 11:25). Let’s be sure to share the gospel with a hopeless world during this time and recognize its power to go viral (see Mt. 13:33).

Some trust in the banks and financial institutions, some trust in government health professionals, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Ps. 20:7). We don’t set our hope on the uncertainty of riches (1Tim. 6:17), but our treasure is safe in heaven (Mt. 6:19-21).

We believe in the mercy of God (see 1Chron. 21:13 and surrounding context) and we believe in the power of prayer (James 5:16). Let’s pray for God’s common grace to curb COVID-19 through health care researchers and workers and other means. Let’s pray for those who are suffering in various ways (physically, emotionally, economically…). And mostly let’s pray for this to be an occasion for people to pay attention to God and the things that really matter eternally and not just continue to go through life with the illusion of invincibility, immortality, and the inevitability of human progress.

Let’s remember that gathering together every Lord’s Day to express God’s worth and our oneness in Christ is an important part of what it means to be a church (i.e. Heb. 10:25; the Greek word translated ‘church’ carries the meaning of an ‘assembly’).

We will continue to monitor the situation, but at this point, taking into consideration our church size and general age demographic together with the current outbreak level in Chicago, our normal Sunday services for praising, praying, preaching, and participating in the Lord’s Table together will continue. However, out of love for each other and our neighbor we will take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus:

· The Set-Up and Tear-Down Crews will be extra vigilant to wash hands, maintain cleanliness, and wipe down surfaces.

· The Welcoming Team will open doors for you as you enter The Meeting Place.

· We will greet each other with a holy elbow bump, instead of a kiss or hug or shaking hands.

· Chairs will be set up farther apart from each other than usual.

· We will have hand sanitizer stationed in the line for the Lord’s Table for everyone to use before taking the elements.

· We will not pass baskets but will leave them out on the back table for you to put your offerings in.

· Table Talk lunch is cancelled for this Sunday.

· If you are immunocompromised and/or elderly we suggest not coming to service.

· If you are sick or have been exposed to the coronavirus, we ask that you not come to service.

If you feel like you need to stay home, please let a pastor know so we can care for you appropriately during this time.

We are also monitoring this issue with respect to Small Groups and other gatherings and will keep you posted.

One of our body’s own medical professionals recommends consulting www.cdc.gov/coronavirus for more information and tips about preventing the spread of the virus (i.e. clean your hands often; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover coughs and sneezes; maintaining a safe distance…).

We have tried to balance faith and prudence in this approach. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Pastor Nathan.