2 April 2020
Dear MPC Family,
In January I wrote to you in “The Link” about how “2020 seems to be shaping into being an interesting time.” When I wrote that article, the impeachment and a possible war with Iran were the big things going on. Now, just a few months later, the coronavirus pandemic is what is on everyone’s minds, with government orders to not congregate, and, in many states, the populace ordered to stay at home. Schools at every level are shut down and are trying to get a grasp on teaching students online. Many “nonessential” businesses have had to shut down, leaving people out of work. As of this morning, the death toll nationwide was over 5,000, with 1000 people dying yesterday from this virus as the death toll accelerates. The president is projecting anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths before this is over. Even Monroe County has a confirmed case of the virus. And, well, you know the rest. Interesting times.
With church gatherings postponed for now, we’ve continued to worship through broadcasts of worship services and sermons online. Hopefully you’ve been able to listen to our service broadcasts on monpres.org, streamed live from the pulpit at 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings. Worshipping the Lord in our homes at the same time on Sunday mornings, whether with our families or by ourselves, we continue to worship together as a unified body in Christ. The services are also recorded, and you can find them on monpres.org and rogermccay.org. So, you can listen to them in your private worship anytime. Easter is coming up on the 12th, and it seems pretty certain that we won’t be back in the Sanctuary by then. Whether or not we can gather on Easter makes no difference when it comes to the fact that “He is risen!” Take heart in that. He is risen!!!
I know ya’ll are calling each other and staying in touch. This is a good thing. We need to keep that up. Be deliberate about it. There is no need for anyone in our church to feel abandoned at home. Phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, texting, and all these many technological means are tools we need to put to good use. The Elders are also calling their shepherding lists and the Deacons are likewise calling around to see how everyone is doing.
During these times I can’t emphasize enough to continue to trust in the Lord. The Lord’s encouragement to his people remains the same as it does in any time of crisis, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Jesus says, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The Lord will never abandon us, he strengthens us in troubles, and he cares for our needs. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26). God remains sovereignly in control and working all things to his glorious purposes. This hasn’t changed. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Even more, death is not threat to us, like Paul said in Philippians 3:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For now, we must endure. Yet, in enduring, we do what Christians have always done in the midst of any sort of tribulation, comforted with the Words of Christ: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). With the rising death toll and the second and third order effects we will likely see, we will also lament. The Scripture has much to say on lamenting, and Jesus provides this comfort to his disciples: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Brethren, however all this turns out, the Lord prevails. His is the victory for his people. In that we can rejoice!
I hope you can tune in on Sunday, and worship with us, or at least worship with us via the recording. Use this time wisely. Be in prayer, and be diligent at it. I will also ask that we take time for fasting and prayer, as a congregation, in the sermon this Sunday. Remember, you are not in this alone. We are in this together, and the Lord is with each and every one of us.