A Letter from Pastor Greg
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Given the rapidly escalating COVID-19 crisis, our greatest concern must be for the health and safety of every member of our church family. The elders and staff have taken great lengths today by prayer to get a sense from God’s Word how we should respond. Many churches have already made the decision to cancel all public services until we get the upper hand on COVID-19.
Like you, I so desire to come together each weekend for our worship service – not just to worship God in song and through the study of His Word, but through the quality time that we share together in fellowship. I truly love my church family and look forward to the handshakes and hugs and conversations each week.
This morning the Lord led me to the story in the New Testament of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. At one point the conversation turned to right worship. She said that her people were taught to worship on Mount Gerizim to the north, while the Jews worshiped at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I love that she is asking Jesus for the right location to worship. His response opened a new paradigm to her. He said, John 4:23–24 “…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” In other words, from God’s perspective, the location of our worship takes a back seat to a simple and pure worship of the Father in spirit and truth! We can worship God anywhere!
Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to do! We will cancel our weekend service tomorrow and for the immediate future, until we are confident that our people are safe to worship in public again. In its place, we will worship the Lord together through a live stream on our VBF Facebook page. The live stream will happen tomorrow morning at our regular time (10:00 am), from my home to yours! It will be a simple and pure service where I will preach a message to encourage our hearts as we face this trial before us.
We will make a decision about Thursday Bible study early next week.
Also, our President has called for a National Day of Prayer tomorrow so we will join with churches all over the nation and turn our hearts toward heaven and pray strategically for this global pandemic. Church, it’s going to be a great service!
Now, let me say to those who don’t have Facebook, or if our live stream gives us issues, we are also recording the service and will post it on the PodBean app and through YouTube Sunday afternoon. To use YouTube, just search: VBF “Pure and Simple Truth”.
We are working on crafting a virtual prayer service where we will pray over the requests of the body and for those beyond our church family. You will be able to share your requests and we will lift them up together. Keep an eye out for the details.
This is a time when God is going to stretch us in our daily disciplines and call us to truly be the church to those who are hurting in our body and beyond. Please be in prayer for those who are already facing serious trials because of the Coronavirus. Since the schools have been closed across the state, many parents who work are having to make other arrangements for their children, which is an added financial burden for them. Many of our elderly and members with medical conditions are at a higher risk with the virus. There is much to lift up in prayer.
We also hope to initiate a morning devotional each day that will encourage you and give you hope through God’s Word! Believe me, our elders and staff are working diligently to shepherd and care for this body. I want to encourage you to also enter into a time of special ministry engagement. If you love to pray and have a phone, we would love for you to join the elders and staff in checking in and praying with every member of our church family over the next few weeks. We really don’t know how people are doing until we speak with them and pray with them.
I want to leave you with a quote from Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, as he and his wife Katherine, faced the Bubonic Plague which struck Wittenberg in 1527. Luther wrote a pamphlet to be distributed at that time.
“You ought to think this way: ‘Very well, by God's decree, the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore, 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 infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has 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, but will go freely.’”
Let’s be the church in this season of unique trial. Let’s walk with confidence in the surety of the Lord’s sovereignty. Let’s continue in our daily devotion and prayers and let’s look for opportunities to bless others through safe means of ministry. Most of all, let’s be a people of faith who refuse to be crippled by fear!
Now, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace!
Pastor Greg Sempsrott