Dear Park Church and Friends,
I wanted to reach out with an important update regarding Park Church precautions in light of the Coronavirus.
Park Church will not gather for worship this Sunday, March 15.
We will have more updates regarding the following Sunday (and beyond) in coming days as we learn more about the situation. We’ll stay in touch via e-mail, Facebook, and parkchurchnj.com.
This decision was not made lightly. Like many, we have felt the tension of, on the one hand, not wanting to overreact, but on the other hand wanting to act responsibly by doing everything we can to minimize risk. This is precisely why our staff and elders have been closely monitoring the situation as it has unfolded this week. So when local schools began to announce that they were closing, followed by the governor’s recommendation to cancel all public gatherings of 250+ people (which describes our Sunday morning), it seemed wise to err on the side of safety. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors. Doing whatever we can to minimize the health risk in the community seems like a very tangible way to do this.
However, just because we will not be gathering publicly doesn’t mean we can’t worship God, which raises the question …
What should I do this Sunday?
Times like this serve as a great reminder that the church is not a place with a program, it’s a people with a purpose. We don’t go to church, we are the church. This is true whether we’re worshipping God together in a public space or in the privacy of our homes.
Therefore, we invite you to join us for worship this Sunday morning from home.
By 9:00 on Sunday morning, you’ll be able to go to parkchurchnj.com to access a video worship experience. It’ll include a guided prayer, selected worship songs, a message from Michael about finding peace in the midst of chaos, and some instructions on how you can celebrate communion at home.
Thank God for technology!
Being a Prayerful, Non-Anxious Presence
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of time this past week wondering how I should be feeling about all of this. Should I be freaking out a little? Or casually and calmly making fun of those who are stockpiling toilet paper? Or just annoyed by the hysteria? Or all of the above? Simply not knowing how to feel can easily create anxiety. It doesn’t help when national borders are getting locked down, schools are closing, travel is being impacted, church services are being cancelled, stadiums are empty, and daily life is changing rapidly. I don’t know where your emotions have led you this past week, but I do know where Jesus wants to lead you.
In times of crisis and uncertainty, we naturally look for things we can control (like making sure we have enough hand sanitizer to last a decade). But grasping for control, ironically, only reveals the truth that we’re not in control. We never were.
Perhaps one of the best ways that Christians can bear witness to Jesus during this time is to be a prayerful, non-anxious presence for the sake of others. Anxiety puts the focus on self and therefore distracts us from being available to love and serve others. In the message this Sunday, we’ll talk more about how to embrace peace in the midst of chaos.
In the meantime, here are some ways to be a prayerful, non-anxious presence:
- Pray. I know, so obvious. But seriously. Take time to pray.
- Don’t react. Reactivity is a symptom of anxiety. Listen to others, including your own feelings. Be wise with what you post on social media. Are your words fueling anxiety? Or dissipating it?
- Stay informed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NJ Department of Health are great resources.
- Continue to follow common sense advice.
- If you’re in a Community Group, check in with one another. Offer to help with childcare, errands, etc.
- Be selfless, not selfish. Look for ways to help and serve your neighbors.
- Above all, fix your eyes upon Jesus.
The Apostle Paul puts it better than any, so I’ll end with his words:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-8)