To the people of God in the Community of Amanzimtoti: Church of the Good Shepherd and St Mary’s Kingsburgh
Greetings in the wonderful Name of Jesus Christ!
Choose faith not fear! We have to show leadership here! We have to care for others more than for ourselves! We have to be a good witness to the world!
In consultation with the leadership of the Parishes I am calling on the Church to drastically take to heart the current situation and to respond by showing leadership in our community and to be a great witness to the love, compassion and faithfulness of God.
The steps that I am proposing are not taken out of fear, but out of a boldness to show that compassion of God’s people. This is not about us. This is not about how we can carry on doing the same old things under difficult circumstances – this is about how we can show the light of Christ in the world by thinking of others as more important than ourselves.
We stand in solidarity with those whom this virus has caused to spiral into fear and those for whom it means financial ruin and for those who will die during this time.
We, as is our Lent tradition, enter into this wilderness to seek God and to deepen our relationship with him. This is a moment to be tested and to overcome those tests by trusting in God, by being obedient to God. This is our moment of Exodus. The plague, the angel of death the red sea symbolising the barrier to our path, the thing that we can’t see how we will get past, they are all there for us to plainly see. This is a time to be the church as opposed to go to church. This is not about attendance at services it is about being of service to the world.
I am calling on each and every Church member to “Be the Church in the Community!”
This means identifying the needs in your street, complex, office block and place of residence.
Identify the vulnerable and see how you can assist. Identify the afraid and share hope, identify the lonely and love them. Let us be the Church where we are.
The agreed upon approach to addressing the COVID 19 pandemic is “Social distancing.” And it is this principal that we intend to work with to show leadership in our broader community.
This Sunday communion will be taken in one kind and you will queue in a line and not kneel at the altar rail to receive. The church will be a no contact zone and you should sit one meter apart in the pews. You will feel awkward, you will feel unhappy – carry this pain, feel it and give it to Christ. Our prayers are to feel the pain of the world and to present that to God and ask him for healing. Not just for COVID 19 but for every contributing factor that got us here. COVID 19 is not the cause of our woes, our sinful natures are, a sinful world got us here and a righteous Church will call on a righteous God to hear our prayer and heal our land.
This is an opportunity for repentance and reordering of the whole world. Community by community. This is a time to rethink every aspect of our lives and to present our fears our pains our concerns and our plans to God.
This Sunday we will not serve tea or have fellowship after the service. (A common practice in many churches during lent anyway).
The Passover Meal has been moved from the church into your homes. We ask each and every family to celebrate this festival in your own home. We will send guidelines on how to do that.
In principal we have suspended all Contact Services until the 21st of April at which time we will review the situation. This means that we will find a different way to have corporate worship. Instead of gathering at the Church, we will develop a virtual service mechanism. You will receive more information, in due course.
I urge you to not just run off to another church for Easter, but to give yourself fully to the task at hand. Make your home a place of worship, sign the threshold of your home with the cross as they did that night in Egypt that the angle of death may pass by.
I reiterate that we are showing our commitment to the world by leading by example – if Social Distancing is the decided upon method of prevention – then let’s do it. Let’s not find ways around it and act as if we are above this. If every sporting every recreation activity has been put on hold, what are we saying if say “oh but it doesn’t apply to us. We will just have fewer people at a time. And we’ll wash our hands.” This is a time to be incarnational and care for others and see others and pray for others. This is not about self- preservation, it’s about compassion.
Above all do not be given to fear. Do not be anxious about anything, but in all things by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.
Our God who has called you is faithful, and he will not fail you.
Choose Faith not fear!
Be assured of my prayers.