Welcome to the Diocese of the East
MARCH 15, 2020
Greetings in His Sustaining Graces,
As ye know, we are motoring down some uncharted waters with the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently we sent out an email outlining the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic but as ye know that keeps changing as a result of the viral exposure pattern.
Currently, the White House Task Force (3/16/20) has recommended suspending all social gathers of 10+ encouraging social distancing in hopes of flattening the viral curve. Flattening the viral curve through social distancing is a mechanical attempt to prevent a sharp peak of infections. It helps avoid healthcare services being overwhelmed, and also provides more time for a vaccine/treatment to be developed. The same number of infections spread over a longer time frame allows healthcare services to better manage the potential volume of patients.
In the world of epidemiology, this social distancing is a term applied to specific non-pharmaceutical infection control actions taken by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying an infection, and others who are not infected, to minimize disease transmission, morbidity, and ultimately, mortality.
The epidemiological message is clear, and experts now recognize certain the viral growth pattern with COVID-19 and the positive impact of social distancing can have on containing the mortality rate of this pandemic. We are learning more each day about this novel coronavirus. To make things interesting, two strains have now been identified - L & S each with a virulence profile.
The CDC guidelines remain the same in the directive of limiting gatherings to 50 or less. Interim Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Guidance as of 3/15/2020
Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.
Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.
This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.
This past Sunday (3/15th), we did have worship services at RCC. It appeared to me and other health care professionals consulted that the risk vs benefit ratio was definitely in our favor given no reported cases in our particular zip codes. Now, it appears that the viral dynamics are intensifying. Many state governments in conjunction with state and local health departments are issuing additional directives based upon their risk/exposure profile. As you know from reports there are pockets or viral clusters within the various regions of the U.S.
It is my recommendation for the parishes within the Diocese of the East to suspend all worship services and all church related activities or events for the next two weeks to be in compliance with the White House directives. We will continue to monitor the clinical situation and provide further pertinent updates.
This week ah attended a video conference sponsored by the Virginia Pastor’s Network on how to maintain and enhance Christian fellowship and connectivity within parishes during this most difficult time. We have access to some pretty amazing technology from Facebook live streaming to youtube to MP3/4 recordings.
It is my recommendation that we seek to reach out to our parishioners in every venue available to us in order to encourage, instruct, and enhance our Christian fellowship in the Body of Christ. Placing our sermon teachings, devotionals and inspiration thochts on our webpages or via mass emails to our congregations will foster that needed connectivity.
Ah would recommend if not already doon to develop a call list to check in on our folks. This past week at RCC we were delivering groceries to shut-ins as a result of phoning. All of our nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospices have limited visits to emergency only. Phone calls and inspirational cards with a little humor are being sent to the residents.
Most members of our flock have computers with very active email accounts. We jest sent this email oot taeday as a message of encouragement.
This challenging time offers untold opportunities to expand and enhance the Kingdom of God. These are difficult times and for many we are in uncharted waters. Besides washing our hands and social distancing, what else can Christians do in this time of worry and panic? Let me make a couple recommendations in order for us to respond in the Spirit and not react in the flesh.
1. Respond with prayer. As we read the Gospels, it is very clear that Jesus Christ was praying continuously. Prayer is something we can do to help others through intercession and to encourage ourselves by looking up. The Almighty God invites us to respond to our fear, anxiety, and doubt, by running to Him and recognizing Him as the ultimate source of goodness, wisdom, and life.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything with thanksgiving! Tell the Almighty God your Father what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which surpasses all human understanding. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7.
2. Respond with spending time in His Holy Word in study and meditation. Embrace His promises and allow them to saturate your hearts and minds. It through the study and application of His Holy Scriptures that we grow in the knowledge of Him and also in the intensity of our ability to trust Him. We can only place full confidence in Him when we know Him intimately.
3. Respond with a Christian hope or conviction of certainty. It is easy to get overwhelmed with what is going on around us. God instructs us to discipline our minds by thinking on things like “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8-9).”
What you think and dwell on in your mind or what comprises your ‘self-talk’ is what you will become in actuality. We serve the Great Physician. We know the One who holds the world in His hands. No matter how scary or bad things get, we know God is actively working in our world.
We don’t place our hope in everything working out because of doctors, science, fate, luck, or the long arc of the universe. We place our hope and confidence in the Almighty God, who is working through those things to bring about His Goodness.
When we rest in Christ, we can be beacons of hope to those around us. It doesn’t mean we discount or ignore their fear or struggles. It doesn’t mean we respond to their concerns with disbelief or platitudes. It does mean we can offer encouragement and joy when others share their fears with us.
Remember, as a result of our birth from above, a spring of living water bubbles up from within us. People are thirsty and troubling times often increase that expression of thirst. As people draw inward seeking something that simply is not there, what a great time to offer them a drink of the Living Water found in relational intimacy with Jesus Christ.
4. Respond with reason. Our hope and security in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we get to ignore the best advice from credible, medical sources. It also means we don’t need to panic and behave as if the apocalypse is upon us.
Our Christian faith is rational and based upon reason and critical thinking. Our Faith is evidence based, it is evidence that demanded a verdict on our part, that is, this is authentic truth. That concept is clearly articled by our braether in Christ Josh McDowell. The way we as Christians treat this pandemic shouldn’t be any different. Neither panic nor ignorance are Fruit of the Spirit.
We understand and believe our hope is in God and His goodness, but we also understand and believe in washing our hands and listening to medical advice.
May we be like a city on a hill in these times of unrest and cultural fear. May we remind others of our ultimate hope? May we love our neighbor by taking practical steps to keep them physically safe. And may we lean into the wisdom of God for how we speak, act, and think over the next few weeks or months.
It is absolutely a Christian reality for us all to experience incomprehensible peace during this COVID-19 pandemic. This incomprehensible gift of peace is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. It is doable to overcome anxiety through prayer and to fight anxiety with thanksgiving and praise.
Not a sermon jest a thocht!! (taken from Rev. Dr. Lon Solomon).
We will keep you informed of all pertinent data and information. Continue to pray for a mighty intervention frae On High that all the world might know HIM and praise His Holy Name!!
"Rejoicing with a joy inexpressible and full of His Glory!"