A week ago last Wednesday as Cyndi and I were on an airplane flying to North Carolina to visit our daughter, the governor of our state of Washington was announcing the first of the restrictions intended to blunt the impact of COVID-19 upon the residents of our state. By the time we had landed in Raleigh, Pastor Larry and the rest of the team were formulating a plan that would allow us to “do” church in a new and innovative way. As the circumstances shifted, so did the plan, adapting as necessary to meet the changing needs.
May I first say how proud I am of Pastor Larry and the rest of the leadership team? The strategic planning, the effective communication, the flexibility in worship, the opportunities to serve and connect—all of these are happening at an unbelievable clip. That is the result of great leadership. I applaud our entire team—and I know you do, too.
Because of the miracle of the internet, we are able to respond to this challenge in ways unimaginable even 20 years ago! As a result, I believe we are seeing an unprecedented level of connection and mutual care that might not occur ordinarily. Judging from the “hits” on our website, we have more people “worshipping” with us virtually than ordinarily worship with us on the weekend. Isn’t that amazing?
We were in the middle of a preaching series called “20/20 Vision” in which we were laying out what we believe to be the future of Chapel Hill. Little did we know that a different future, at least in the short term, was being laid out for us. So—we rise to it! Beginning this weekend, I will be preaching a new series called “Defiant Hope.” There is no question that we are facing a very serious situation, but if we take our emotional lead from social media and mass media, it would be very easy to despair.
We dare not! Christians above all are persons of hope! Even in the face of pestilence and persecution, we have ALWAYS been the people of hope. I want to remind us of who and whose we are and call us, once again, to a “defiant hope” that disdains the calamitous headlines and lives in a way worthy of Jesus. This is not to say that we won’t suffer in some way; we may. But the gospel draws the fangs of suffering because bad news, as Pastor Larry reminded us, is trumped by the ultimate Good News.
Pastor Ellis is inviting you to join him for daily prayer at 6:00 am on Facebook. Pastors Larry and Megan are leading a reflection on a chapter of Luke at 1:00 pm. I want to do my part by closing out your day. Each evening, I will post a blog called “Sleep on This,” a brief word from your shepherd, a reflection on my day and upon the Word, and a prayer for a peaceful rest. We’ll post a link to this on our Facebook page, so be sure you like us on Facebook. I trust this will be a further encouragement to you as we all, together, embrace this moment in typical Chapel Hill fashion.
I love you. You ARE sweetheart church. And we will emerge from this triumphant in Christ!