May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
We are presently faced with an unprecedented pandemic like none of you or I have ever seen before. Governments across our beloved country have taken drastic measures to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus in a variety of ways, ranging from calling for state of emergencies, to imposing travel bans, to implementing quarantines. Undoubtedly, the stakes are high and the way governments continue to respond to this pandemic could determine the future of over 300 million Americans. In light of the concerns in our community about the COVID-19 disease, we who comprise the community of West Henrietta Baptist Church, are at a crossroads.
Crossroads should be understood as a point in our life when we have to make an important decision, like when we need to choose whether or not to abide by the recommended guidelines to prevent contracting or the spread of COVID-19 disease. At the crossroads, we do not have the luxury of time to linger; if we pause too long, frozen by indecision, we could be exposing ourselves to grave danger. Consequently, we have cancelled Sunday services, Wednesday Bible studies, and all other ministry gathering until further notice. We are a people of faith and I encourage you not to paralyze yourselves with fear or anxiety. While we trust in the protection of God as our “Good Shepherd,” I hope you have all agreed that our response to the pandemic is Christian and prudent. I join multitudes of God’s people in prayer that this pandemic will be over soon, and life returns to what we have always cherished.
I encourage you to consider that amidst the challenge with our jobs and health at the crossroads, there are opportunities for us to be creative despite our limited resources. We will communicate with you through the LINK, E-blasts, WHBC Web page, Facebook, telephone tree, and mailed letters. Feel free to use the telephone numbers listed in the bulletin to contact the Pastor and/or Moderator. Please remember to pray for the sick and shut-in members of our church. I am gratified that prayer requests from the community are still coming to us. Despite cancellation of weekly programs of our church, we still have monthly financial obligations, and I encourage you to send your tithes and offerings to Laurel Heisig (Financial Clerk), whose address is in our church directory.
I want you to know that I miss seeing you at Sunday Services, Bible studies, and other church gatherings, but be comforted that I cease not to pray for you daily. St. Paul’s words to the Church at Philippi capture my daily thoughts of you: “I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all” (Philippians 1:3-4). God is set on providing peace for us in our worst circumstances. In Philippians 4:6-7, St. Paul says that by taking everything to God in prayer, all our anxieties and requests, we obtain God’s peace. He says, God invites all our requests, and he is pleased when we come to Him.
Is it a coincidence that COVID-19 disease is attacking the world during the season of Lent? Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27). Christ shared these words with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. It was meant to give them comfort and reassurance in what would be the darkest hour of their faith. Since that time Christians down through the ages have found comfort from Jesus’ words, to sustain them through their most difficult trials. Christ adds yet another assurance in the same verse: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.”
Let us not allow the winds of adversity to topple our faith! In this world we will face tribulation, persecution, fiery trials, fighting within and fears without (11 Corinthians 7:5), but let us pursue peace. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). I pray that the words below may become a comforting prayer for you:
Be still my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Yours in Christ’s Service
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor