Church community in times of crises

Since March and the arrival of the corona virus in the Netherlands many aspects of our lives have changed, how and who we spend time with, how we work, pursue education, buy our groceries, celebrate achievements and milestones, even we worship together on a Sunday. Many of us have had to make adjustments to our daily habits and schedules. We have had to learn patience, to learn creativity in problem solving, to set boundaries and goals for ourselves and our families, all the while shown grace to ourselves and others as we figure out this temporary ¨new normal¨.

We are all aware of the good habits that encourage physical and mental health, such as good hygiene, healthy eating, regular exercise. But what about the good habits that encourage healthy life as a congregation? We are not created to live this life alone. Now is a time, as part of God´s family to care for each other, not just ourselves. Philippians 2:4 says, ¨Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.¨ So first, let us think of everyone in our church family who might be struggling – those in our church who are medically fragile, the elderly, those working with the sick or vulnerable, those who risk exposure just by doing their jobs, those whose income has been lost or reduced, those living alone, families with children, those who lack access to technology, those missing friends and family.

We are, for now, physically separated from one another. We can not be with each other on Sunday mornings to sing, fellowship, or share a meal together. We haven´t been able to celebrate communion and have put baptisms and baby dedications on hold. Leadership meetings, Bible studies, Cross-life, and Fellowship groups have all started meeting together online. This is a start.

Let me encourage all of us to be aware of our church body; for us to find ways to show love to one another. Text someone, start a group chat, make a phone call, send a card or package, have a visit over video. Be creative. Start small. Learn as you go. See a gap, fill a gap. Get into the Word and bring calmness, comfort, and encouragement to worries and stressful situations. Share love, laughter, and hope with each other when lonely or feeling confined. Reach out when you need help. ¨If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.¨ 1 Corinthians 12:26

This new normal can be a chance for us to grow spiritually. Choose an area you wish to grow in, for example – prayer. Use a good prayer app to keep a list of prayer praises and requests or write down your prayers to help you stay focused in your time with God. Spend time worshipping God through reading His Word and singing songs. Ask someone to be a prayer partner with you, sharing each others requests and praying for one another. Join the prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings without leaving the comfort of your home.

Let us use this unique time to use our God-given gifts and opportunities to help the whole body as we respond to the circumstances at hand. Crises can cause fracture, but we also know they can – and should – reveal unity as we serve each other effectively. We pray that God will guide us into the right roles for this moment.

Sarah van Gurp

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