Suspension of Services

March 17, 2020
Passionate People of Hope!
Each and everyday new and more stringent recommendations and instructions are being issued. I had spent much of the day yesterday talking with Healthcare professionals, church leaders at Hope and throughout our Michigan district making plans for worship that would meet those recommendations while doing our best to keep our most vulnerable protected. I spent a significant amount of time reaching out to those who are at a higher risk in our congregation recommending self-quarantine and offering help in procuring groceries or pharmaceuticals with the aim of keeping them from being exposed to the coronavirus. (I would like to thank all of those who have emailed or called to volunteer to help do this!)
It has been and remains our desire to follow the instructions issued by our authorities for the safety of our members and our communities. Great care and prayer have, is, and will go into everything that we do. However, as I expected even before I left the office yesterday new guidelines were issued dropping the number of people at gatherings from 50 to 10. Therefore, it is with a very heavy heart that we must suspend our normal Worship services. We will do this for as short a time as necessary. As soon as these recommendations are changed to allow us to Worship together in the flesh we will do so.
Hope has never been the most technically savvy congregation. I am so thankful that Hope has been blessed with Mark. Together with him and a small worship team we will be recording and posting services on our website, Facebook, and YouTube. We will be forwarding that information to you on how to watch as soon as we have it ready.
As our lives are upended by this pandemic, we as Christians should not give in to or perpetuate the panic that we see in the world around us. (staying off social media may help) St. Paul writes to Timothy; “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) During the years of the early church, plagues and epidemics were more common and more deadly than anything we have seen in our lifetimes. One thing that differentiated Christians from the pagans was a lack of fear. Where others fled, Christians out of love cared for the sick and the dying both Christians and non-Christians alike with many contracting the diseases themselves from those whom they cared for. But, it was through these actions of love that many received Christ and the church grew. We live in a different time but in many ways, it’s the same world. Panic and fear gripped unbelievers both then and now. Let it not grip the hearts of Christians or the people of Hope. While we can take every precaution and follow every recommendation ultimately we are all in the hands of God. If you are anxious or worried you are told to pray. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God”.
Ultimately it is a matter of trust. Do we trust in God’s goodness, do we trust that He has our best interest at heart. “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8) If we truly trust in Him we will not fear, but be moved by the power of His love to care for all our neighbors, Christian and pagan alike.
As we journey together through this time of uncertainty receive comfort in our Lord Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the devil and in these words to you “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world”. No matter what may happen to you in this life you are and always will be Christ’s he has overcome this world and through Him, you will also overcome it unto life eternal.
Pastor Paul Kollek