Pastor Letter from Senior Minister, Keith Paulus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As the COVID-19 outbreak in NYC is a rapidly developing situation, with the elders of the church I have made the decision to suspend our worship services beginning March 15 and until further notice. I will use this time to explore whether there are perhaps actions we can take with the space we meet in, as well as other precautionary measures, that would allow us to once again safely gather as a congregation. I will work to keep you informed.
So many decisions in our world right now are being made out of fear. However, as those who know the Sovereign God of the universe, we are not to make decisions out of fear or anxiety, but out of love and faith. After much wrestling, prayer, and counsel, I think this decision – as far as I can discern my own heart – has been made out of love for you and for others and with faith in our great God. I am praying that the Lord will use this time of disruption to increase our joyful dependence upon Him and to increase the way we care for each other. Please be looking out for and following up with each other during this time. Please also think through ways you might be able to love and serve those in our city who are particularly vulnerable – perhaps there are ways you can support hospitals, nursing homes, or places like the Bowery Mission at this time. My greatest prayer is that the Lord would use all of this to point people to the only sure hope and refuge we have, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel of grace.
In lieu of our corporate worship gathering, while we do not have the capability to Livestream a service, we will post our worship bulletin on our website and I will provide you with some Bible study notes related to 2 Samuel. I will send you those links tomorrow evening. Please do gather with your household for family worship on Sunday morning and/or consider joining in with others via a video call in order to worship ‘together’. Engage together with the liturgy, pray, sing, and read God’s Word. There are several distinctly relevant passages that you might consider reading together and meditating on during this time: Psalm 46, Psalm 91, Matthew 6:25-34.
A Call to Prayer
In Philippians 4:4-5, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Lord is at hand. As a result, he calls on us to not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. As such, I am calling on us to engage in a deeper time of prayer in these uncertain days.
- Beginning this evening, I and other leaders in the church will be engaging in daily prayer beginning at 8:30 PM. As you are able, please join in that time of prayer with us every day. Though we will not be praying in the same location, we will be praying together.
- Please regularly send me any prayer requests you have – perhaps requests for sick family members and other needs – and I will send out a weekly email to the members of Christ Church so that we can be praying in specific ways for each other and others.
Pastoral Care and Assistance
I was scheduled to be on vacation with my family beginning next week. I have canceled that in order to remain in the city. If you need any help, if you are not feeling well, if you would like a pastoral visit, or if you would just like someone to pray with you on the phone, please do let me know. I will be reaching out to many of you over the next week via texts, emails, and phone calls, but please do reach out to me if I can be of help. Please note that if part of the help you need is financial assistance because of all the ways our society is unsettled right now, please let me know as Christ Church has a compassion and benevolence fund available.
Even though our interaction with each other as a congregation will be decreased during this time, it is important we do not isolate ourselves from each other or from those in need and simply go into hiding. There is nothing Christ-like about that. Therefore, let me also once again encourage you to be caring for one another. In one sense, every Christian is a minister of the gospel – so please be speaking the words of the gospel to each other and loving each other accordingly.
This gospel love and hope we have is well summarized in the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism:
What is your only hope in life and death?
That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
With love in Jesus,