The world is experiencing a crisis unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. The breadth and depth of the impacts are staggering, and we are still on the uphill side. This will continue to get worse before it gets better. Having said that, the reality we need to face is that the impacts of the coronavirus have been limited best in those areas that have taken aggressive measures: shutting down schools and businesses, limiting non-essential travel, and maximizing “social distance.” Where the response has been slow or lax, infections and even deaths have grown almost exponentially.
At The Journey, we want to be cautious with our people and aggressive with our preparations and responses. The probability of the coronavirus making its way into Tuolumne County is high and more than half our congregation is in a high-risk category based on age alone; more may be at risk because of other health issues. Those not at high risk may be unknowing carriers who could pass on an infection to someone else.
For these reasons, following recommendations from both health and government authorities, we have decided to cancel Sunday morning services for at least two weeks. (This also means that our 5th Sunday potluck on March 29 is canceled.) So what now? First, please avoid any activity that could put you at personal risk of contracting the disease.
The early church was scattered because of the persecution against them in Jerusalem (Acts 8). What seemed a terrible tragedy—the persecution—led to the good news of Jesus being proclaimed, and to miracles and healings. The result? “Great joy”! Today, the Christian church is seeing another dispersion of sorts: out from our comfortable Sunday morning routines, we are being scattered back to our homes and neighborhoods. The question is, will we ride this out as just another inconvenience, like the winter’s planned power outages? Or will we, with the power of God through prayer, proclaim the good news of hope and healing in Jesus’ name to a community that is fearful and panicking? I believe we have an incredible opportunity before us. But what will that look like?
Over the past two years I’ve talked about growing as disciples (followers) of Jesus in three ways: UP (growing in our relationship with God), IN (growing in love for and relationship with our fellow believers), and OUT (growing in love for and service to those who are not yet believers). During this time of dispersion, we need to continue to grow in all three areas. Here are some ways that can happen:
- On Sunday mornings at 10:30, I will broadcast some kind of teaching through Facebook Live. (This may or may not include our worship team.)
- Anyone can access our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheJourneyChurchSonora.
- We will work to make notes available at the same time, if not in advance.
- Audio recordings of the messages will be available through our website at www.welcometothejourney.org/sermons.
- We will be forming Connection Groups of 5-7 households in order to ensure that every person who is a part of The Journey Church is connected and cared for, mostly by phone.
- One person or couple will be the group coordinator, responsible for making sure that everyone in the group is contacted at least weekly. If you’re interested in serving in this way, please let us know. The primary qualification: you enjoy talking on the phone!
- While the minimum desire for these groups is to stay in contact, ideally they will begin to share in meeting each others’ needs (Acts 4:34), growing and learning together (Acts 2:42), and even getting together (Acts 2:46) as appropriate.
- It may be tempting to hunker down and take care of ourselves, whether that means just our families or our church friends. But there are still needs in our community, and we need to be intentional about meeting those needs we can. Look for ways to serve others.
- Jamestown Family Resource Center will continue to need the peanut butter, canned meats, and mayonnaise you have been so faithful in supplying. Please continue to do that by bringing those items to the church Tuesday through Thursday between 9 and 4.
- Take a walk and talk to any neighbors you see outside. Strike up a conversation in the grocery store. (Maintaining appropriate social distance!)
- Offer to shop for a friend or neighbor who can’t or shouldn’t go out.
- If you think of other ideas, share them with those in your Connection Group and with the church, to see how we might be able to meet those needs.
- Set up recurring payments through your bank. You can do this on a schedule of your choosing, whether weekly, twice a month, or monthly.
- Mail your offering checks to the church. We can provide you with preaddressed envelopes...and stamps if needed!
Let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
That those who love your name may rejoice in you.
In these times of uncertainty, we can cower in fear or we can take refuge in our strong and sovereign God. Let’s choose refuge. Seek God in his Word and through prayer, and proclaim his Name everywhere you go.
I love being your pastor and am excited about how God will work in and through The Journey Church in these uncertain times.