2 August 2020
In last week’s pastor’s desk I noted that with the lifting of restrictions we had come to a time in our church life where we could begin to regather together. Not quite yet for church services – but we could definitely meet in each other’s home and many of our fellowship groups were starting to meet up in person again.
The past few weeks have been an exciting and encouraging time. As an example – the past few weeks at Clay have been super encouraging. We’ve been going through the Bible Study ‘Jesus Through Old Testament Eyes’ and it’s been so encouraging to see the lightbulb moments as we’ve slowly started to piece together how every part of the Bible points forward to Jesus. And this not just as something good to know, but truths which are deeply impacting hearts. Ah! Why not catch a Clayer to ask how they are finding this great Bible study series!
These past few weeks have been brilliant for the groups I’ve been a part of – SaLT, Clay, and Sunday YF.
Sadly, though, things might need to temporarily change again.
The news recently that a couple of people brought back the virus and were in the community for a week has been constant news. As of Friday evening, another one person has caught the virus. He is one of the first cases of community transmission we have seen in months. Currently the department of health is doing their best to contact trace and alert the public of the places these people had visited.
It is still early days at the moment. The government set records in testing numbers on Thursday, and we’re still awaiting those test results. Given that this news is still relatively new there hasn’t been any official change or word from the Government about social gatherings. SLE Church and the St Lucia District Branch has not officially changed any particular position on our gatherings either.
However, some families in our church do live on the southside of Brisbane, and Sunnybank – one of the areas visited by the infected couple – is a relatively frequented part of Brisbane by our church members.
Given these circumstances, we will leave it to the discretion of the leaders of each fellowship group to determine how they ‘gather’ for the coming week. This may mean our gatherings will, temporarily, return online. Your leaders will inform you soon. We will also keep an active eye on the news and the community transmissions rate and reassess in the coming weeks what we should do with our gatherings.
I know this news might be saddening and perhaps come as a bit of a surprise to some. Some of us may even dislike that we have to go back online with our gatherings – to Zoom once again.
I understand – and part of the dilemma we are facing is that we do yearn for more physical face to face connection. My last Pastor’s Desk argued that the best setting for ministry to each other is in face to face. I think the experience of the past two weeks proves the superiority of face to face gatherings. But while we yearn for this, we also want to be physically safe and socially responsible. We want to love our neighbours and those we come into contact with.
I am convinced that the church should play an active role in promoting actions which best love our neighbours and community. For our witness and gospel testimony. And in our case, this means – for now – that we’ll pause our fellowship gatherings.
For those who may wish to continue churching together – to watch the live stream together – we encourage you to maintain strict hygiene and social distancing. It will be important for hosts to keep a proper register of who has visited their homes. And as always – if you have been feeling ill, or have visited any of the recent hotspots, we ask that you lovingly isolate yourself from others. And please let us know if you’re in that boat! Letting us know helps us to know how to care for you as well.
Now, I understand that various people will have different consciences on this matter. Some of us may think this response to be a little too big. Others may feel we’re not doing enough. And still others think that this may be a wise decision. Wherever you are on this matter, the key thing is that we seek to love our brothers and sisters. Please don’t let your decisions on this matter force or stumble the conscience of someone else. We’re all trying to do what we feel is right and wise in this situation. So be encouraged to be patient and bear with each other.
Friends, we do not make this decision lightly, and we want to make clear that we are not acting out of fear. We’re trying our best to work out what is the wisest thing to do with the information that we have. To act in ways that honour God and display a loving gospel-centred mentality towards each other and outsiders.
And let us all keep praying through this time. Thank God that He is sovereign, and as our loving heavenly father he cares for our needs and comforts us in our fears. And let us also thank God that there will come a time in the future when there will no longer be any fears – where every tear is wiped away, where disease and death are no more. Until then we pray, come, Lord Jesus, come.