COVID19 - April 4th Update

Dear Church,

I’m encouraged to hear that many of you are well and standing firm in the Lord during this quarantine. This week I was moved by Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, because this text reminded me of you.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

You continue to lift the needs of the church in prayer, you are willing to serve in a variety of ways, and you’re diligent to stay connected through technology. Praise the Lord!

We’re aware that the present pandemic has caused a disruption in the corporate worship of God’s people around the globe, including our church. Though I was praying for this season to be limited to March, it has continued into April.

Out of a health concern for our communities, the federal and state government have extended the “stay at home” directives till the end of April. That means our plans have changed for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, & Resurrection Sunday. 

Instead of meeting in person we will livestream each of these services

  • Palm Sunday - April 5 @ 10am
  • Good Friday - April 10 @ 7:00pm
  • Resurrection Sunday - April 12 @ 10am

It seems like our current game plan will be in place for the rest of the month: Livestream on Sundays, Zoom Community Groups, Prayer & Q&A meetings via Zoom on Sundays @ 5pm. We had different plans for this month, but we are trusting and rejoicing in God’s perfect plan.

FYI, I was in contact with Mark Zhakevich last night, one of our long distance elders from Grace Community. I informed him of our plan to livestream & he let me know that Grace Community is also live-streaming for all of the remaining Sundays in April.

We know the church is not virtual and that livestream and zoom are not ideal, but  this is our temporary adjustment to minister to you. 

The Lord’s Table

Many of you have been wondering what about the Lord’s Table for April (Good Friday)?  We will not partake in the Lord’s Table this month. Instead we will exercise patience.

I want to briefly explain what led us to this decision. Though we could look at few passages, I only want us to focus on one. 

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 is the text we turn to when it comes to what the church is prescribed to do in celebrating the Lord’s Table. In this passage, Apostle Paul mentions “when you come together” 4 times. Take a look:

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 

and again in “33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.”

God’s desire is for us to be gathered corporately in order to partake in the Lord’s Table together. Us gathering and partaking in the same elements is a picture of our corporate unity in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:17). 

I know some may advocate that we can “come together” using technology like Zoom. At this time we think it’s unnecessary to consider setting that kind of precedent. Instead, we patiently wait and pray for the day when we can physically gather, eat the bread, and drink the cup together.

In the meantime

  • Use your Lord’s Table fast as a time to pray. Just like it is good and wise to solicit hunger for the sake of prayer. May we have a spiritual hunger with the supper that is only satisfied by being with God’s people. Pray diligently for that. 
  • Still remember the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. As a church we will still proclaim and meditate on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, though we will not partaking in the physical elements.

May we take comfort in the fact that whatever God is doing, it’s “to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). So may we echo what Job says in Job 1:21, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

For the King,

Vlad Burlaka