CoronaVirus Preparedness and Plan
by Mike Stanczak on March 13, 2020
Trinity Community Church, Many in our community are awakening to the seriousness of the coronavirus. As of Wednesday, authorities are referring to the spread as a pandemic, and given the rate of infection in our area, there is reason for precaution. Across news sources, across nations, across the partisan aisle, the advice is the same: don’t panic, but certainly prepare. The first order of business is to address whether we will be gathering on the upcoming Sundays. The situation in Lake County is developing rapidly and so the Health Department has decided on a more aggressive approach and suggests that communities like ours which include vulnerable populations should strongly consider cancelling. While it is not required of us yet, the tone of the messaging is pretty emphatic, and so we have decided to postpone gathering at the church building. Normally it is our duty as Christians to gather together, but under these circumstances it is our duty to temporarily stay apart. The service plan right now is to maximize our digital resources and broadcast our sunday sermon through YouTube Live where you can watch live or the recording after it is posted. We’re gathering other resources and planning ways to facilitate community in any way it is appropriate and encouraging to you at this time. At the end of this post I will share some ways that each of us as individuals and all of us as a church can prepare, but before addressing any of those it seems important to take a minute to get our bearings. As Christians, we are not gnostics. Physical things matter. Preparing for a pandemic matters. But just as we would prepare for social distancing, Christians should also prepare to obey. But we will only find the ability to do that if we remember a few basic truths.
God is not anxious, and he is not absent. His eye is on each sparrow. He has numbered the hairs on our heads, and on the backs of the bats from which this virus sprung. He is the ground of all being and nothing takes place without his active, moment-by-moment will, sustaining this world by his Word, the Son. You are not in this moment by accident, and he has not forgotten you. Nothing exceeds his grasp, and things are not out of control for him.
Coronavirus is stirring panic, in part, because it reveals to us our insecurity as a society. Modernism has occasioned incredible advances in science, technology and medicine, praise God. But for too long we have allowed that to fool us into thinking our society has given us control of our lives, and even put us in control of nature. As a result, our health, success, and standard of living have become our greatest sources of our hope, which is a burden they cannot sustain. And now we are realizing that even in affluent areas with good medical availability, these things can be stolen with a cough, and we are not sure how to live if our expectations for the future must change. The kind of security we are longing for is impossible. Past generations have known this, which is maybe why fewer people placed their hope in health, success and comfort. They may have been deeper people for it because they were less likely to forget that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. The animals were made to survive, but we were made to live. The security necessary for living is only found in Christ. In Christ, your destiny is to enjoy God and glorify him forever. It is to share in God’s glory and to enjoy the inheritance of his New Creation. It is to be transformed into the image of the Son, our Savior. This is not by any merit of your own, nor is it because you have been such a saint. Rather it is because you have been sainted. God has done what we cannot and provided for our forgiveness. Which means that nothing can separate you from the love of God your Father. His love is poured out in Christ with no restraint, and you are not in danger of losing it. Everything may be insecure, but not this: Christ in you, the hope of glory. This kind of security is what the world is grasping for now as folks buy out pallets of paper towels at Costco for their small family of three. Which leads me into my next point:
When we become disciples we cannot know where Jesus will lead us. He has led us into this moment, during this crisis, during this time of anxiety, and the call remains the same: “Follow me.” Distinguish yourselves as Christians and adorn the name of Christ. In times of want, be generous. In times of fear, be joyful. In times of fragility, hold fast to the hope of the Gospel. You have been led into this moment for a reason. Far be it from us to let coronavirus excuse us from obedience to Jesus. If we do, we will miss the chance to proclaim the glory of the Gospel at the very moment when it will shine most brightly. Christ said he would be with us always, even to the end of the age.
It’s important we as a community take steps to care for one another. My wife Ashley summed it up last night as we were talking. Our responsibility right now comes down to three things: being wise, being generous, and being prayerful.
According to some reports, the overall fatality rate of COVID-19 is floating around 2%. While that number may seem comfortably low, the reality is that the virus can be dangerous for many members of our community, particularly those who are over 60, have pre-existing respiratory conditions, or are immuno-compromised. We want to make decisions that will look out for the welfare of the most vulnerable among us. If you, or any of your family members, are a part of a vulnerable population, please don’t hesitate to exercise as much caution as you need to remain healthy. It’s important at this time to remain in contact with one another. Please update the elders ( ) or the deacons of care ( ) with how you are doing. We want to know you are okay or if you have needs we can meet.
Many of us are stocking up for quarantine, which is not a bad idea. The government has suggested setting aside a modest amount of goods, just enough to last for two weeks, in case you need to isolate from commonplaces. Unfortunately, many of our neighbors and many in our church community may not be able to do that, especially as panic shopping depletes store resources. One of the low-hanging-fruit ways we can adorn the Name of Christ in this time is to give when others hoard. I’m not saying endanger yourself or your family, but live trusting the providence of God and give generously. Find ways now to keep communication open with your community group, other members of the church, and with your neighbors. Ask them if they have needs (social or emotional as well as physical), and be generous. Give away a few rolls of toilet paper or a few cans of food. Coordinate dropping a frozen meal on their doorstep if they have to quarantine. Schedule a daily phone call to keep in touch and break up the monotony. Be creative.
Last thing. Pray. Pray for peace. Pray for the virus to dissipate. Pray for under-resourced kids who will be taken out of school and lose one (possibly two) meals a day. Pray for those who will lose much needed work hours. Pray for those countries that would be ravaged by this disease. Pray for the Gospel to shine forth in the midst of darkness. That’s all for now. I love you all. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, forevermore. Amen.