On Father’s Day a couple of Sunday’s ago, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the roadmap to the State’s recovery. I don’t know about you, but lunch was on hold until after the livestream of the Government’s announcement.
The reaction to this announcement has been interesting. Some Victorians are pleased with the proposed roadmap, some are angry. Many are frustrated (whether agreeing or disagreeing with the roadmap). There are people who are enjoying the opportunities arising from lockdown (more time with children, working from home), while many others are struggling to cope with loneliness, anxiety, and economic hardships. People have lost their jobs, and some businesses will struggle to remain open.
Believe it or not, it has been 6 months since our Church Family has gathered live in person.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR OUR CHURCH?
The best-case scenario for our church is that groups of 10 will be permitted to meet outdoors from late October. To reach this stage, the entire State must average fewer than 5 new cases/day for a period of 14 days and have a total less than 5 cases with no known source.
If Victoria has zero new cases for 14 days, from November 23rd we can reopen our doors and regather according to the Government’s density quotient.
We are looking into doing an outdoor service in Stiggants Reserve especially in the lead up to Christmas, which means that whole Church family will be able to gather following the density quotient guidelines. In the Church building we will be allowed 50 people for a normal service following the same guidelines.
There will be no ‘normal’ Warrandtye Community Carols this year. This event will move online as well. Christmas & January services for WCC will look different as we grapple with the best way to gather together.
We cannot foresee any ministry gatherings taking place over the next couple of months.
This means that our Playgroups, mainly play and mainly music will not be happening in Term 4. Youth Group will continue to meet online with a possibility of a gathering in December to celebrate the end of the year. Kids Church will continue with packs and Zoom meetings for the rest of the year with the possibility of a special Christmas celebration live in person in December.
Our Life/Small/Prayer Groups will continue to meet online. Some groups could regather in person during November, but most likely December is shaping up as a wonderful time of reconnecting.
A return to normal for all groups, Sunday services and during the week ministries, requires 28 days of zero new cases and zero active cases in the entire State, and zero outbreaks of concern in other parts of Australia.
In short, a medium sized Church like ours are most likely going to struggle to meet as a whole this year. Depending on where we are in 2021, based on the Government’s Roadmap plan, we have to be adaptive in these new situations.
Whatever we think about the Government’s roadmap, I want to encourage us all to stay the course, in a way that honours God. Let’s continue to pray for God’s grace and mercy at this time.
During this pandemic there are thousands of ‘experts’ out there, who apparently know without question what the right thing to do is. I am not one of those ‘experts’. What I do know is that God is calling each and every one of us to respond to this situation in a Godly way.
I encourage everyone to;
PRAY FOR THOSE IN AUTHORITY.
I don’t know what your political voting line is, but what I do know is that it is the duty of Christians to pray for our Governments. We need to ask the God of grace to grant our political leaders and health officers the wisdom they need to serve the State and make decisions for the good of our society.
FOLLOW THE RULES
Paul reminds of these words that ring true at this time, when he wrote to the church in Rome,
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1
Must I agree with every rule before I obey the law? Must I understand everything completely before I comply? The answer is no.
I believe that we should ask questions, but there are constructive ways to do this and unwise ways. As Christian’s we need to uphold God’s word and ‘do what is right’.
LOVE & SERVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR
A large number of people are struggling emotionally, mentally, and financially. We shouldn’t assume that Government will or can care for every need. Do you know of someone who could do with a phone call or a meal?
Let’s not neglect the people whom God brings into our lives and with whom we have opportunity and the means to assist. Don’t wait for someone else to do something. Let’s be a people who show the love of God to other’s, especially at this time.
PUT OUR HOPE IN THE LORD
Psalm 130 tell us,
From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.
I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.
This Psalmist’s focus reflects a healthy and Christian response to a pandemic. We mourn the suffering we see around us and that which we experience. We listen to the authorities and follow their directives, but our hope is found in God and his unfailing love.
Times of crises reveal our heart’s deepest desires and where we ultimately place our trust. Trials test us and they expose our fears, faults, and sins.
Without question, 2020 is a test. What is life really about? Who am I truly depending on for hope? Will I let God be God?
If we get our perspective right, and keep our eyes focused on Jesus, it will have the remarkable effect of aiding us to practice humble, loving, and God pleasing lives in Victoria, for the sake of our community and for the glory of God.
September 16th 2020.