Dear Church Family and Community,
I pray this finds you all doing well, and keeping safe. Like many of you, I find myself trying to both stay on top of all the news regarding this international health pandemic, while also trying not to be overwhelmed by it all. Many of the people I’ve touched base with are living in the tension of worry and faith. Why does worry loom larger than my faith? …How come I can’t control my worry? …God’s in control, so there’s nothing to worry about, right? …God is good and faithful, but how come I feel scared?
We are currently living in something that is unprecedented for many of us – closed schools and modified work, closed borders and limited travel, discouraged or all-out ban on public gatherings, a virus that masks as a cold but proving to be much more harmful and deadly. I have found balance from my wife, Shell, who reminded me upon my return from Colombia, God is good and in control, but God also gave us a brain, so we have to use that too. A friend also told me God invented soap, so we should use that too. We trust God, but we also have to be active in taking steps to protect others and ourselves.
I recently read an article from psychotherapist, Lori Gottlieb, imploring us not to let anxiety overwhelm us during these surreal days and moments. While the fear is real, we must work to find joy in the ordinary, even and especially now. She warned against worry, which sometimes only leads to more worry. She asked us not to miss being present in each moment. She said that while the virus can invade some of our bodies, it can definitely invade all of our minds – and we must actively fight against that as well.
My good friend Kurt Willems, who pastors out in Seattle, recently shared this thought,
“…Remember, as the Father held the Son with the hovering Spirit, so also we are held in uncertain times. Even when it seems God has abandoned us in our hour of trial, God is present in empathy—the deepest of fidelity.”
I loved this reminder. God our Father did not abandon Jesus on the cross; God held Christ. The Spirit was also present, hovering over both, even in those dark hours. God is present with you now. God is present with us now. God will hold and carry us. Jesus has overcome, so that we can be overcomers as well. And the Spirit lives in us and among us. One of my generation’s favorite voices said it like this: “But if God got us we gon’ be alright.”
Yesterday, we made the decision as a Staff to suspend and postpone all church activities through April 18th. Our decision was made prayerfully, in consultation with the Church Board, and in adherence to recent guidelines from the local and national authorities. For now, we’re committed to keeping the Church Office open as a means of being present and being a light in our community. As a Staff, we are also committed to being available for the congregation, while also encouraging our other congregational leaders (Church Board, Deacons, Ministry Team Leaders, etc.) to keep reaching out to you and others connected to HBIC. We will also be sending out a second e-mail soon with more details about the next few weeks. In any case, please feel free to call or e-mail the Church Office or one of the pastors if you need assistance in the coming weeks.
We are also committed to providing weekly online worship resources that can be used as individuals or as a family. We are actively working on a weekly online worship experience, as well – though the many details for this are still being ironed out. This season will be very trying for our church and community. We will miss being able to come together to worship, fellowship, learn, and grow. However, our community is much more than a group that comes together once or twice a week. We are a family. As a family, we will be called upon to pray for each other, serve one another, check on each other, and love each other in familiar and different ways.
We are blessed to be a blessing. We are called to live and love like our Christ. We will be given ample opportunity to be led by the Holy Spirit, and to shine where we are, so we glorify God our Father in heaven.
Love in Christ,
Pastor Hank (Matthew 5:14-16)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104