How long?

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)

Does it feel like it’s really been long enough? That’s the question people are starting to ask themselves. We’re feeling isolated, tired of rules, ready for a summer of fun and relaxation, and unable to keep saying no to our personal connections with people. We’re all feeling that it would be so much easier simply to go to stores as we used to, to go to work as we used to, to shake hands and give hugs as we used to. Good sense sounds as oppressive to us as the voice of our mothers giving us advice when we were teenagers!

Right now, the people in every nation of the world are having to learn that all of us are individually responsible to care about all the other people who cross our paths. That is one of the most important lessons we could possibly learn! It runs totally counter to the culture of individualism and self-centeredness that the world has been trying to teach us for a hundred years. It is the very heart of the Christian message, straight from Jesus himself: “Love one another” (John 13:34-35); “Love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:36-40).

All the states, and our national leaders as well, have asked all of us to prevent the resurgence of Covid-19 by continuing to stay home, continuing to avoid contact with people, and persisting in wearing masks when we’re around other people. Meanwhile, other folks are gathering to party on beaches, in homes, and everywhere else, not wearing masks or maintaining safe distances. And we tell ourselves that because we feel like it’s been long enough, therefore it might be long enough. But that’s not true.

Unfortunately, precisely because people aren’t staying home, and aren’t staying safe, it’s going to be that much longer before we can safely return to worshiping together at the church building. It’s my responsibility to make sure that when we do come back, we are as safe as possible. It’s our responsibility to love one another! That means that when we invite potentially vulnerable people to be in the same room with people who may well be disease carriers, we have to feel confident that we’re not about to start a new epidemic right in North Muskegon. And that means that we have to wait. For now, I can say with regret, but also with confidence, that we won’t be worshiping in the building through the month of June.

A reminder of some of the things we’re doing right now to reach out with love in Jesus’ name:

  • 9:30 Sunday worship on Facebook (watch it any time) on Facebook or a little later on YouTube. Not a Facebook user? Wait until about 11 on Sunday, and go to the church website at communitychurchumc.org. Click at the top on “Messages” and you’ll see a link to our YouTube channel, where all the latest worship videos and a few other things are posted.
    Instead of Sunday School, Wendy is sending out devotional activities to children. Add yours to her list!
  • New: Take Out Worship, a short message especially for folks who don’t have a relationship with church, available fresh every Sunday on Facebook at 8 a.m.
  • Encouragement devotion from me, every Tuesday at 3 p.m. on Facebook (or any time)
  • Prayer time, every Thursday at 3 p.m. on Facebook. We’re seeing lots of requests coming in!
  • In June, we’re having Vacation Bible School virtually. Children who sign up will receive a packet with all they need to take part in VBS online starting June 22. So have your kids and your neighbor kids sign up with Wendy!
  • We’ve already sent meals, and we’re going to send more, to provide encouragement for health workers on the sixth floor of Mercy, which is isolated for Covid-19 patients
  • We’re still giving away masks right in front of the church building from a rack
  • The Mission Team is focusing on giving away all their reserves to meet the most desperate hunger needs in the Muskegon area. And trying to figure out what an auction would look like online!

Every time you put on your mask to go pick up take-out food, you are loving your neighbor. Every time we broadcast our worship via Facebook, and send out activities for kids, we’re loving our neighbors. Every time you pick the phone and check on someone you haven’t heard from in a couple of weeks, you’re being the presence of Christ. So please let me encourage you! Keep it up! It is our great practice of love in Jesus’ name!

Keep in touch!