BUNDOORA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

COVID 19 (Corona Virus)

Responding to Covid 19 (27 March 2020)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


I have delayed my update in the hope that whatever further restrictions are to be imposed would have been announced by Friday morning, but we are still waiting. They might be clear by this evening.


Thank you to all those who have responded to the request to let us know how you are doing, and whether you need or can offer help. Many of you have offered help and when the time comes we will be in touch. If you haven’t yet been to the Love’ page on the website [under Covid 19] let me encourage you to have a look, and also to visit a new page created by Andy called ‘Looking’ to which you can direct friends who are seeking truth and relationship with God at this time of uncertainty.  Andrew Wort is also continuing to develop a new resources section with useful reviews and links.  Here are the relevant pages:


www.bpc.org.au/love


www.bpc.org.au/looking

www.bpc.org.au/resources


Services

This Sunday the 29th we will have a very slimmed down live stream. When the Government announced restrictions on the numbers allowed at weddings and funerals, and with the repeated message to reduce contact with others, we decided we would go to pre-recorded services for the foreseeable future. This will allow us to continue to be blessed by a number of our gifted brothers and sisters contributing elements of the service from their homes. But we are not quite ready to do that yet – it takes quite a bit of organising and technology – so this week it will be a transitional live streamed service with minimum participants. This will also be the only week where the same service will serve all congregations. From next week, 5:00 pm will again be different from the 10 a.m. service and it is planned, Lord willing, that 10 and 5 will have different preaching from April 26th. You can connect to the livestream here:


www.bpc.org.au/live


After each service tomorrow, the pastors will also be available for you to meet online using Zoom.  This will be an opportunity also for you to meet with some others in the congregation "face to face" if you would like to.  This will be for 20 mins and there will be links provided that you can click on to enter the Zoom meeting.  If you would like to become more familiar with Zoom, please click on this link to YouTube.


Session has decided we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the 5th April. There will be further communication about this next week – the why and the how – but I would encourage you to plan to participate all together at either your morning or evening service.


We will also be having our normal Good Friday service – on line, at 9:30 on Good Friday, reading the account in John’s gospel of Jesus’ last hours, and singing of His death for our sins. The world lurches from one crisis to another, but the gospel is unchanging, and the victory of Christ over sin and death, the victory that gives believers eternal life, is once and for all.


The Building

The building is now officially closed. Individual staff will access the building for work purposes [e.g. to use the internet, record a part of the service], but there will be, again for the foreseeable future, no organised or group activities in the building until restrictions are lifted. The BOM has arranged for regular cleaning of the building during the closure so that we are ready to start immediately the restrictions are lifted. Permission can be given for individuals to use the building on their own under certain circumstances, but it must be applied for through the office.


Growth Groups

Many have successfully kicked off their on-line meetings, although with a little frustration for some. While not as good as being in each other’s presence, I was encouraged to see everyone in the growth group I attend and to hear how they are getting on. If you are not part of a Growth Group, but feel that you would be encouraged through this time by joining one and having regular contact with other believers, please contact Clinton.


Youth Group

Youth Group, like all groups other than our Sunday services and growth groups, has stopped meeting for now but Andrew Wort is investigating ways of staying in contact in a time when many of our youth are prevented from engaging in their normal activities and can share the general anxiety and concern for the future infecting in our society. In addition, if parents want resources to help them disciple their young people at this time, please contact Andrew who has been gathering these resources together.


Holidays

Clinton, Chris, Cat and Maxine had all planned holidays during this Easter break and I have encouraged them to take them. While unable to get away it is important they have time with their families to be refreshed together. Chris and Clinton will be away from the 30/3 to the 6/4.


More

Remember there will be more to come – more changes, and more resources to sustain you and encourage you while we are apart. Stay in touch, and if like me you are concerned about the impact of separation and isolation on the faith of your brothers and sisters, be encouraged by Paul’s experience and learn to pray


Paul’s prayers

Paul was often spatially separated from his beloved fellow believers. It is mentioned in 1 and 2 Corinthians and Philippians, Colossians and 1 Thessalonians. Even though it grieved him and he longed for them [e.g. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5], longed to be able to encourage them in person in their various trials, he had confidence in God. In Philippians he writes of his confidence that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” [Phil. 1:6 ESV]. That confidence was the basis of the bold prayers he prayed for them – e.g. Phil. 1:9-11, Col. 1:9-14, 1 Thess. 3:11-13. He knew that the Lord’s work in their lives was not dependent on his physical presence, but on His powerful Spirit. Let us share his confidence in our saving God, and pray those same prayers [and others e.g. Eph. 1:15-22, 3:14-19; 2 Thess. 1:11-12] for each other.


Remember, our God is the one “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” as He brings glory to Himself as the mighty Saviour of His people through His Son [Eph. 3:20-21]


Neil Chambers
Senior Pastor


Responding to Covid 19 (19 March 2020)

Monday – 500. Wednesday – 100. Friday - ?
Adapting to the ever changing world of Covid 19 response


Some of you may remember that it was only last Friday that the Government announced that it would allow no indoor gathering of greater than 500, a regulation that was to come into force on this last Monday. Then yesterday, Wednesday 18th, it announced that it would allow no ‘non-essential’ indoor gathering of greater than 100, effective from 5:00 pm that day. What you see below is our response to that change. But it is still a provisional response because in the Wednesday announcement the PM also said that State Governments were working on regulations that would govern the implementation of that restriction for groups, including churches. We have yet to see what those state regulations will be, but we felt it necessary to communicate the changes that will happen to our Sunday gathering as early as possible.


Sundays
From this Sunday, Lord willing, the way the most of us will participate in our Sunday gathering is through live streaming of the service. I say most, because we will need some – those involved in AV, PA and music as well as those speaking, reading and praying, in the building. We hope this will be possible. We are in the process of communicating with our brothers and sisters on those rosters, and their participation will be voluntary.


We will live stream a morning service at 10:00 am and an evening service at 5:00 pm.


There will be no Sunday School. We intend to have a children’s talk as part of the service, and Clarissa is working on resources to help you keep instructing your children at home.


We also hope to make available with the live stream - outlines, transcripts and questions you might like to discuss with others.


We would encourage you to watch the live stream with others if that is permitted, whether with another family or some members of your growth group. In meeting, observe the precautions to prevent transmission of the virus – the handwashing, the covering of the face, staying away if you are ill, appropriate distance. But recognise that the PM is suggesting these restrictions will be in place for up to six months and so our response must be sustainable. Complete isolation will not be sustainable for most over that time, so think about how you can encourage each other as you ought.


If we are allowed more in the building than the bare minimum to run the livestreamed service then we would invite another 30-40 to be present. There is sufficient space in the building to allow the required distancing and it would enhance the live stream experience. But we do not know if that will be permissible until after we see the Victorian Governments regulations on Friday, and it will be by invitation only.


Therefore, plan to livestream the service to your home on Sunday.


If you are unsure of how to do that, or unsure if you have the technology to do that, please get in touch by sending an email to the office asap (office@bpc.org.au).


Moving to livestreaming will mean that we will not be able to pass around the blue offering bags, so if you don’t yet give by electronic means could you prayerfully consider doing so.


Staying in touch.
Being unable to catch up with each other on Sunday increases the risk that some of us may become isolated and unable to receive encouragement and help when we need it.


So plan to stay in touch. Take the initiative. Ring those in your growth group if you do not see them that week. Ring those with whom you sit on a Sunday to see how they are going. Ring or visit those in your mainly music or explorers group. Ring or message one of the Pastors if you are aware of a need – yours or someone else’s, or you want to talk.


We will be trying to stay in touch with you, whether through your Growth Group leader, or regular email communication, or a daily prayer update that we will seek to develop, or a phone call. It may take a week or two to get all those processes working smoothly because school holidays will be starting soon, but we will be aiming for some form of weekly contact.


Three key website links will be helpful for you:


www.bpc.org.au/coronavirus

Will contain all the updates that we have sent through to members and regular attenders of the church.


www.bpc.org.au/live

Will be the place that you access the live stream on Sundays.  These will be kept for 24 hours after which they will not be able to be downloaded.


www.bpc.org.au/love

This will be the place that you can communicate to us and and will be the way that you can be encouraged in loving others at a time when people need it.


If you are looking to offer help there is a place to make that known.  If you would like to receive help if you are self-isolating, you can also make that known.


There is also a place that you can update us weekly on your status by saying "hi" – e.g. ‘at home but well’, ‘in quarantine’, ‘awaiting test results’, ‘tired by two small children but enjoying my husband/wife working from home’.


Growth Groups
We are hoping Growth Groups can continue to meet, even if in modified form. Again, when you meet it will be necessary to observe all the precautions to prevent transmission of the virus. You may need to change the way you share food. But as stated above, six months is a long time, and we need to sustain ourselves over that time. Scripture urges us to meet together to encourage each other to love and good works, and we should not think we are wiser that Scripture. In addition to the dangers of illness, isolation and loneliness the virus has brought, we face all the usual temptations to discouragement, distraction and disobedience. Be active encouragers of one another.


Clinton is already working on supporting our growth group leaders in what will be an increasingly important role in sustaining our life together over this time.


Meetings

Many of you have already moved to on-line meetings at work. We anticipate that this will be the case at church, and are actively investigating the technology and software options.


The Pastors also will be seeking to avoid having to be quarantined all at once and will move our meetings to online, and we will also move to only have two pastors at a time at the streamed services. We are still thinking about the details of this for the preaching program, but the in principle decision has been made. Even if not seen, all the pastors will be working both in staying in touch and generating content for on line communication.


Resources
We will be seeking to communicate a range of resources to help you not only endure but grow over this time. Work has just started on this, but there are already a number of useful articles on the Gospel Coalition website, and we will also be looking to generate relevant material.


Sadly this will not be the last email from me about our response as a church to our society’s ever evolving response to the Covid 19 threat. There may be more details when we know how the Victorian government will enforce the ‘social distancing’ measures. But at this time we think fuller communication is better than too little communication.


Finally, let me encourage you not to judge others for their response. Some will only feel safe with total isolation, others may feel that continuing contact with others is needed. Each of us will have to make those decisions for ourselves and our families with the wisdom we are given. But make them out of faith and love, not fear. And draw near to Jesus. I was reading this morning Matthew 14:13-33, one of my favourite passages. As I look at the months ahead I am reassured by Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 that He is always able to supply His followers with the resources needed to do what He commands. I have often thought of this in terms of material resources, but now I am comforted by the thought that in my lack and your lack, whether that is lack of wisdom or courage or energy, Jesus is able to use the little we have to more than supply our need as we do what He says. And even when we think we are going under, overwhelmed by what we see around us, Jesus hears our cry [14:30] ‘Lord, save me’, and His strong hand is more than able to pull us out and make us safe.


As the Psalmist says “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Ps. 34:4


Neil Chambers
Senior Pastor


Responding to Covid 19 (18 March 2020)

Recent Developments

Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister this morning restrict indoor gatherings to 100 or less. This clearly has implications for our gatherings, especially our Sunday gathering. You will also have heard the PM and the chief medical officer saying that these measures are not a short sharp shock, but measures that may well continue for six months. Our response therefore needs to be carefully considered. We have been anticipating that this further restriction would come, but it will need some time over the next few days to work out the details for Sundays remembering that what we put in place will last for months.


In the immediate prayer meeting will be going ahead tonight, but we will close the doors at 80. There is sufficient space in the auditorium to practice the social distancing being recommended. We will not be using mics, so those who pray will have to speak up. We will also be keeping a record of those who attend to allow tracing of contacts should it be required. All who come should be diligently practicing those personal measures recommended to prevent the spread of the virus, and please stay away if you have had any contact with someone you think might be infected or have any symptoms of the flu or other upper respiratory tract infection.


Suspension of mid-week Activities

We had decided yesterday but not yet communicated that all groups that use the building during the week will finish this Friday. For example, Youth Group and Kid’s Club will have their last meeting this Friday and the Iranian congregation’s meeting will continue to be suspended. This will also be the last week for daytime church groups – Mainly Music, Explorers, Friday women’s bible study. All these groups, except the Iranian congregation, would have been ceasing for the school holidays starting on the 28th March but they will not automatically resume at the commencement of Term 2. The situation will be reviewed in the first week of term 2, but the indications are that the situation will not have improved by them and so we should probably anticipate their continuing suspension for term 2.


Growth Group and Church continue

At the moment we want our growth groups to keep meeting. In fact their role will take on even greater importance. Meeting is important. We are embodied people and it is encouraging not just to know there are other believers out there but to be, where we can, in their presence. It is good to sing and pray together. Meeting is good for other aspects of a community’s health as well – for its psychological health and morale, for sustaining communal bonds, and for giving a little taste of the normal when the world is being shaken. So while we may, in groups of 100 or less, we will meet.


Please pray for the staff and Session as they think through the arrangements needed to keep on encouraging each other to perseverance in trusting Jesus and to live that life of love and good works He calls us to. There will be further communication later in the week especially regarding our Sunday Services.

Responding to Covid 19 (13 March 2020)

As you know, the government has declared the Covid 19 spread to be a pandemic. That means it is not a question of if, but when, many Australians become infected. The Government is encouraging us all to take steps to slow the spread of the virus within our community for the good of the whole community. Slowing the spread, even if it does not stop new people becoming infected, prevents the health system from becoming overwhelmed. There are finite numbers of health personnel, and finite physical resources like hospital beds and ventilators, the latter having a key role in the treatment of those with serious respiratory illness. If the spread of the virus is slowed and the peak of infections is thereby reduced there remains capacity in the system to treat the most seriously ill. But if the virus is allowed to spread quickly the number of infections, and therefore the number of seriously ill people, rises very rapidly. The demand for ventilators may then exceed the number available and hard choices must be made about who is offered what treatment. Rapid spread may also mean that large numbers of health workers are sick simultaneously and so staffing our hospitals and providing care to those who need it, not just those infected with Covid 19 but those with other and pre-existing serious diseases, becomes difficult. So while some of us may remain uninfected, and some of us get a mild infection, it is important for all of us to do what we can to prevent infection. This is love of neighbour.


It is especially important for those groups, like churches, that meet regularly to work to prevent the spread of infection. Meeting together to praise our Lord, pray together and hear His word is a source of great encouragement for us, but meeting also can facilitate the spread of the virus where appropriate steps are not taken. We are therefore making changes to the way we do things, changes that we hope will prevent the spread of the virus amongst us. You will notice those changes from the time you enter the building on Sunday.


Changes to Sunday

Coming into the building you will notice posters reminding you of the steps you can take to prevent the spread of the virus – washing hands with soap or sanitiser, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, not touching your face with your hands. These are all important things you can do.


You will notice that the door is open. Covid 19 can survive on hard surfaces and so we want to decrease the number of times you need to touch a hard surface with your hand. We will have disinfected the door handles and other surfaces, but it also helps to minimise contact with them. The doors into the auditorium will also be open, or opened for you.


You won’t get a hug or a handshake from the welcomer, again in an attempt to minimise contact transfer of the virus, and we would be grateful if you made your own policy ‘no hug, no handshake’ for the time being. There are alternative ways of greeting, so be creative.


When you come to the sign in desk one of the welcome team will sign you in and hand you your name tag to prevent the screen from becoming a source of transmission.


If you haven’t sanitised your hands in the car we would encourage you to use hand sanitiser before you enter the auditorium, again to prevent spread on hard surfaces like the backs of seats.


In the service it will be much the same as before, although the handles of the blue bags will have been disinfected, and the AV team will be live streaming the service. We have tested this once before, and this Sunday we will be live streaming so that it can be a regular and reliable feature of our service when some have to start to self-isolate or are put in quarantine.


You will also notice changes when you leave the service for morning tea or supper. Food on open platters can be a source of transmission, especially if hands are reaching into bowls or they are contaminated with infected aerosol droplets. So from this Sunday until this pandemic phase ceases there will be no food put out on tables. This Sunday [15/3] only there will be commercial biscuits in individual packets available at the serveries, but from the 22nd we will not be offering food. If you anticipate your child being hungry we would encourage you to bring food from home for him or her, and to supervise your child eating it and not sharing it, in case of allergies.


Drinks will all be served from the servery. The morning tea team will add milk and sugar as you request. This is again an attempt to prevent spread from many people handling jug handles, or having open food sources like sugar bowls. We have asked the team to serve only adults [which for this purpose is year 7 and up] so if you are a parent you will need to get the drinks and the biscuits for your children. This is to prevent children being scalded with hot drinks, which has happened before. We would also ask you to restrict your child to one serve of biscuits, as these are limited.


When you have finished your drink it will be helpful if you can return your cup or glass to the servery, where a team member will put them through the dishwasher.

Children will have had their hands sanitised before they come down from Sunday School.


We will continue serving morning tea in creche. The team will fill the children’s bowls and supervise them eating as this gives us a little more control over the allergy risk. We also ask you to wash the children’s hands before they come into creche. If your child is unwell it is important that they are not placed in creche. Children with coughs, colds and runny noses should for the time being be cared for at home.


Other

All the mid-week meetings of the church are also engaging in how they can prevent spread and will be informing their members of what needs to be done. It is however in our Sunday gathering that we will need to be the most careful as the larger the group the greater the possibility of a number being infected, and the greater difficulty in tracing contacts.


All toys put out will be cleaned at the end of every session, and we are giving continuing thought to how to disinfect areas of the church. Door handles are easy, but the slide in the play area is more challenging. We will be asking for volunteers to help disinfect areas, and particularly on Sunday morning before the 9:00 am service.


There will be changes in the distribution of the Lord’s Supper but we have not yet finalised these. It may be that on Communion Sundays you are asked after the children go out to sit in alternate rows so that the servers can carry the tray and plate to you to prevent multiple people handling them. We are giving particular thought to the bread.


What do I do if I suspect I have come in contact with someone with Covid 19 or suspect I might be infected?

Contact your doctor, or ring the Covid 19 hotline 03 9496 6606.

Follow all medical instructions.

Self-isolate until you know you are not infected, or until you have recovered.

Let us know so that we can stay in touch with you and provide pastoral care and support to you.

If you have come recently from overseas follow the government’s instruction to self-isolate for fourteen days, and let us know you have returned.


What do I do if I just feel ill?

If you or your child is ill love your brothers and sisters by staying at home until you are well, and let us love you by letting us know you are unable to attend because of ill health.


The following websites are helpful sources of information:


WHO Website 

Comm Dept Health 

Vic Health 


What will we do when we learn someone in the congregation has been diagnosed with Covid 19?


1.     Contact DHSS for advice and follow their instructions

2.     Investigate: when were they last in contact with others at church? When were they last in the building, or in growth group?  To allow adequate time for this we may need to not meet on the following Sunday.

3.     Disinfect areas they were present in. Here again we will need to follow advice.

4.     Communicate clearly with the congregation what has happened and what has been done.

5.     Make sure all those the person was in direct contact with self-isolate while being tested.

6.      Communicate clearly how those in self isolation can live stream services

7.     Welfare checks on those self isolated. Daily phone call by pastoral team

8.     Seek to provide other support needed for those affected e.g. help with Shopping or help with their children.

9.     Welcome back after recovery or at the end of quarantine.


This is new to us all, and our response may continue to evolve as the virus spreads and its impact becomes more apparent, or the government issues further advice. We do not know but it is highly likely some of us may get sick, and while most of us may only have mild symptoms some of us may get very sick, and a few of us may even die. That is the nature of pandemics with new infectious agents and we need to face that. We do not think Christians are spared the ills of living in a fallen world that is in rebellion to its creator. Paul speaks in Romans of the sufferings of this present time in a creation that groans. But he speaks of them in the context of saying such sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed when we receive our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies [Romans 8:18-25]. That has always been our hope as believers – the resurrection to the new heaven and earth. Paul is also confident, as we should be, that our heavenly Father works all things for the good of those who love Him. We can be confident that He will be helping us to grow in Christlikeness as we deal with this infection, and as we deal with our fears and anxieties around it. It is a good time to bring them to the Lord and let Him test our hearts, to see whether we are trusting Him as He deserves to be trusted. It is also a good time to teach your children about the power, faithfulness and love of Jesus that gives us confidence in Him, even when we are afraid. And Paul assures us in Romans 8 that neither death nor life, nor anything, can separate us from the love of God.


The changes we are making are not prompted by fear, but love. It is love of our neighbours to seek individually and together to limit the spread of the virus, particularly our neighbours whose health is compromised by pre-existing illnesses. It is love of those who serve us in the health care system to seek to limit the spread of the disease. The slower the spread the more adequate will be the resources available to treat the seriously ill. And it is love of Jesus and his reputation that will make us active in seeking to limit the spread of the disease. We want people to know that Jesus’ followers are thoughtful for the good of others. So, even though the changes above may have an impact on your Sunday experience, embrace them cheerfully, and let’s seek to encourage each other and help each other in making them work.


We must make sure that we continue to walk in love in the days ahead, a love that comes from faith, and accompanies a confident hope in our Lord Jesus. If people need to isolate, we have to stay in touch with them and make sure they have all they need. If someone is not at church because they are wisely keeping an off-colour child at home, be in touch to find out how they are. It might be a long winter and so we have to be active to encourage each other and not let anyone drop through the cracks. If some have their income reduced because work has dried up, share with them what you have.


And as an expression of our love – pray and offer hope to a suffering world. Pray for our leaders, that they would make wise decisions about controlling the virus and minimising its impact. Pray for our health care workers, for wisdom and safety. Pray that the Lord would be merciful, both in limiting the spread and severity of the virus, and in using it to turn people back to him as they know again their frailty. Pray for each other, that in the Lord’s mercy He would protect and heal, and above all sustain our trust in His love and His promises, and that we would honour our Lord Jesus through this.


And offer hope. The risen Jesus can raise the dead, and only He can. The risen Jesus can forgive our sins and spare us judgement. You see around you fear and anxiety, and sometimes the selfishness it gives rise to as people seek to save their own lives. As people are forced to see that they are not in charge and not in control, direct them to the gracious Lord who can heal with a word, raise the dead with a word, to whom all created things are subject, and in whom they can find mercy.


Paul says that knowing peace with God through Christ we can rejoice in our sufferings, because suffering produces endurance, endurance character, and character hope – and this hope will never disappoint us because the Spirit floods our hearts with God’s love because He convicts us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. [Romans 5:1-11] It is an incomparable privilege to live this life with all its challenges and uncertainties as a believer in Jesus. Yet Christ is the Saviour of all sinners who turn to him – so share the hope and privilege that transforms our present trials by sharing Him.

COVID 19 Prevention (11 March 2020)

The elders, like many of you, are closely following the news about the spread of Covid 19 and monitoring the government advice. While there have now been cases of acquisition of the infection in Australia there is, as yet, no suggestion by the government of any need to stop meeting.  The elders are, however, considering contingency plans to continue to encourage and care for each other should the government advise that we should stop meeting for a time.


In the meantime, knowing that it is love of neighbour to seek to prevent the spread of the virus, we draw your attention to the following advice given on the VicHealth website:


Ten ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus

·       Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.

·       Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

·       Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.

·       Isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. If you take medication ensure you have adequate supplies.

·       Phone your GP first if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.

·       Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and now is the time to quit smoking. Call the Quitline 137 848.

·       Don't wear a face mask if you are well.

·       Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.

·       Get the flu shot (available April).

·       Shaking hands is optional!


This is sound advice.


We will continue to provide hand sanitiser around the building, and have purchased some bins with lids for the disposal of tissues. If you develop ‘flu like’ symptoms - cough, sore throat, headache, or fever – we would encourage you to stay at home and let one of the pastoral staff know so that we can stay in touch with you.


The following websites are helpful sources of information:


WHO Website 

Comm Dept Health 

Vic Health 


While we should seek to be good neighbours we should also not give way to fear. This is a time to remember what we believe, and to live lives marked by faith, hope and love. As we saw in Deut 32:39 our lives are in the Lord’s hands. All our days are already written in His book before one of them came to be [Ps. 139:16] so none of us will live a day more or less than our heavenly Father has determined, and as Jesus said being anxious will not extend our lives [Matt. 6:27]. Our God has promised to work all things for our good, including new viruses, so we should be confident He will use this to help us grow in Christlikeness [Romans 8:28-30]. And if He wills that this should be the cause of our death [and we are all going to die sometime and from something unless Jesus returns first] we know we will not be separated from His love [Romans 8:35-39]. In fact Paul says those who depart to be with Christ are better off [Phil. 1:21, 23] and Revelation tells us that those who die in the Lord are blessed, for they rest from their labours [Rev. 14:13]. Christ has promised eternal life to His people, and His promise is sure [Jn. 11:25-26]. Knowing our heavenly Father’s love and knowing our Saviour’s faithfulness, hard as it may seem, we also have to be able to entrust those we love into His hands. Their lives have always been in His hands, and He is able to keep them even when we are not present. It can be hard, but we can cast our cares for them, our anxiety about their future, onto our heavenly Father [1 Pet. 5:6-7].


Having this faith and hope, which is the faith and hope of every believer, we are freed to live lives of love. Loving others, whether it is staying at our job if it exposes us to risk, sharing resources, caring for sick family and friends, takes courage in these circumstances. But we must not give way to a fearful self concern. The safe way in any circumstance is to keep trusting Jesus in doing what He says, and He says we should love our neighbours as ourselves. If and when our brothers and sisters get ill and have to self isolate we will have opportunity to show we are really Jesus’ disciples by our love, whether that is seen in dropping of groceries, or the daily phone call, or transport, in any number of practical ways.


See the virus as an opportunity to live the life we are all called to, the life of faith, hope and love, and in living that life enhance the reputation of Jesus our Saviour and Lord.