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Monday, March 16th, 2020

Hey Grace Family,

As we begin a new week, I wanted you to know that our leaders at Grace are meeting this week and developing plans for our community to stay connected, cared for, and unified during what is a trying time for us all.

Last night, the CDC took further steps to slow the progress of the COVID-19 virus by recommending that people limit gatherings to no more than fifty people for the next eight weeks and Governor Murphy has also issued a curfew from 8pm to 5am to do the same.

So, how will we still maintain community during a time in which we are not to be in close contact with one another?

Community is at the center of every church. The author of the book of Hebrews highlights the importance community as the early church began to grow. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25). In addition to hearing and receiving God’s good news at church, we come together regularly to care for one another and encourage one another.

So, what will community look like for the next couple of months?
We have before us an opportunity to explore what it means to “be the church” rather than simply attending church.

  • Community begins with those whom you already have regular contact. Check in with your friends and family on a regular basis during this time. Not only to make sure they have the essentials needed for daily life (food, toilet paper, medicine, etc.), but to spend time in conversation with them.
  • During this time, I want to challenge you to think of one or two additional people whom you might reach out to. This might be someone whom you normally sit near during church, a single parent, or an elderly friend. Creating new lines of communication within the body of Christ is essential and will only strengthen the community as we grow together.
  • Community also extends beyond the church walls to those whom you regularly interact with at work, school, sports activities, and in your neighborhood. What a great time to reach out and care for these people in our lives as well.
  • If your social distancing has begun to create any form of loneliness, please reach out to those around you or to your church leaders, so that they might be able to connect you with others. While this might be a difficult step to take, know that there are people who care about you and want to make sure you are not left on your own.
  • Be creative with your lines of communication. While texting, phone calls, and email are essential, explore what other ways in which you might communicate with someone. Try video chatting or even sending a letter by snail mail. Make a plate of cookies to drop off on your neighbors’ doorstep with a special note. Make use of social media or online games to interact with others. Brainstorm other ways you might reach out to others!

Creating this community will be vital to the well-being and mental health of us all in the coming weeks. While we often get stuck in our daily habits and routines, we have before us a time in which we must look at new ways to share God’s love with others around us. Sometimes, we might feel uncomfortable taking that first step, but the rewards of building a stronger community await us on the other side. As we face the unknown, we know that we are never alone. God is always walking alongside us wherever we go. He knows what the future entails, even when all we see is uncertainty. So, let’s spend some time in prayer that God might show each of us who to reach out to and what that might look like for you as we come together as a community.

By the end of the week, you will be hearing from me as to what specific steps we will be taking to further enhance our community life together. This is no doubt challenging, but I have every confidence that we have all we need to face and overcome.

Grace and Peace,

PS If you weren’t aware this past Saturday evening we recorded my weekly message and uploaded it to our youtube page. If you didn’t get a chance to view, here is the link:

We also had a Facebook group chat at 1:00pm for any who wanted to interact with others in response to it. We plan on doing the same this Sunday and hope you will join us.