What is Lent?
Greetings to you all in the mighty name of Jesus our Lord and Savior. The New Year has arrived and we should be thankful to be alive. Notwithstanding the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Year certainly brings some amount of excitement. I extend my wishes that 2021 be filled with faith, hope, love, joy, good health and prosperity for all of us. It is in God that we hope. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is the faithful God who keeps his covenant and love with those who love him and keep his statute for a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9). An amplified version would read, “All our hope is in God’s faithfulness and He will keep His promises to His people: pardon them, deliver them, cleanse them, and when that time comes, give them rest in His kingdom.”
Looking back at the year in review, it is with much sadness that we remember the passing of Betty Heisig and Alan McCarroll. Many of you experienced sicknesses and personal losses. Many people have experienced a challenge of faith resulting from sickness, financial problems, family problems, loneliness, and inability to connect with one another because our congregational worship has been suspended since last March. Let’s do a little personal assessment here: have you veered off the narrow path? Has your love for God remained unmovable, and your passion for evangelism remained strong? Surely, our Bible study was resumed in September, and it has been maintained by the faithful who came together on Wednesday mornings and our Saturday morning prayer meeting has continued. God has been the ever-constant sustainer and provider for our church and we have never been without our basic necessities to do ministry. Praise God!
Don’t overlook the blessings that 2021 brings. What is your vision for the New Year? God needs us for various kinds of ministries this year. The big questions are: “How will your life’s schedule fit into all of this?” “What needs to change for you in order to become a faithful servant of Jesus during 2021?” “Where in your life do you sense a need for change and growth?”
My first appeal for you is to allow God to affirm the positive things in your life and change what needs changing (2 Cor. 5:17). We are all a work in progress and we all grow in Christ at different rates. However, my prayer is that God’s intervention in our lives will manifest itself in our love for Jesus. Whenever we resume regular congregational worship and the other ministries, I look forward to regular church attendance, serious and sustained evangelistic efforts, sacrificial financial giving, and an overall commitment to the weekly programs of our church. I am hoping to see an influx of new members and visitors. Get ready for the new things that God will be doing in and with our church, which will involve all of us.
Our weekly service that may be accessed on YouTube, Facebook, and our church website has given us lots of visibility. Please build on this new outreach program for our Church -- reach out even this early to your family members, co-workers, neighbors, and friends through Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, Texting, Viber, Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat or any other social media platforms at your disposal with weekly conversations about what will happen when we resume weekly public events at church. Share with them our church’s heartfelt singing and a practical and lively message from God’s Word every Sunday. My prayer for all of us during 2021 is reflected in the verse of this hymn below and I strongly urge you to make it your prayer too.
Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to Thee,
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my will, and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall thy royal throne.
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
Hope in Uncertain Times
May the peace of God be yours this day.
I believe this year will go down in the annals of history as a very challenging year for all of us. With respect to current problems, our country is faced with issues related to Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, violent crime, racism, sexism, ageism, economic inequality, drug addiction, unemployment, shortage of food among a wide cross section of socio-economic groups, affordability of health care, and children falling behind in school.
How we confront these problems depends on whether or not we keep our focus on the problem rather than the solution –God Himself. The Christian’s approach is to see the problems as opportunities to exercise faith, to practice trusting the Lord, to prove God’s great faithfulness, and to be proved by Him. Our Christian faith is made stronger when we work together with the Lord to find solution to life’s problems.
If hope was ever a necessary coping mechanism for contemporary Christians, it is presently vitally necessary for both our mental and spiritual health. To live without hope is to cease to live. Someone said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” Hope is the belief that something beneficial is to come, the idea that what is currently seen is not the end of the story, but something greater is ahead. Hope in itself is faith that God does have plans for us and that they are good indeed. In all biblical stories, hope is an integral component of the journey. My major concern has to do with how each one of you will respond or continue to respond to the present condition as outlined above; therefore, I offer the following suggestions:
First, avoid wrong reactions to the problems. Your primary questions always should be, “Am I willing to follow God’s will when I know it? Friends, we have an obligation as Christians to be a witness to our faith in a God who loves and cares for all His people. Avoid hatred and malice. Control your anger aimed at others. Paul exhorts us, ”… examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22).
Second, follow the example of Jesus. During the last 4 years, I led the church through numerous studies of St. Paul’s letters and the Gospels, and we looked at different aspects of the hope that Jesus brings to the world today. Like Jesus, be a God-pleaser, not a self-pleasers or a people-pleaser. People-pleasers are those who try to please people even if they have to compromise their own conscience to do so. Paul tried to please people as long as pleasing them did not cause him to displease the Lord (Galatians 1:10,
1 Corinthians 10:33). Follow Jesus by loving your neighbors, regardless of race, ethnicity or creed.
Third, work to achieve unity, not division. St. Paul pleads that every effort be made for unity with these words: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). Guard this unity by being sensitive to your brothers and sisters in Christ and not offending them unnecessarily (Romans 14:20–15:1). Each of us should ‘please our neighbors for their good, to build them up’ (Romans 15:2).
Fourth, avoid solving your problems with human efforts alone. God has the power to remove our burdens and rescue us in our distress. His intent is for His children to face their problems in the power of the risen Christ. God says, “I removed the burden from their shoulders … In your distress you called and I rescued you” (Psalm 81:6a–7a).
Finally, Rejoice and give thanks. Don’t allow yourself to complain about everything. Thanksgiving has great power to bring you joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever we give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in our life. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
In His Service,
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
An Adventure of a Lifetime
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Summer has come and almost gone and for many of us, we have done nothing relative to prior summer activities. For many of us, summer vacations used to mean highway miles in cars or minivans, 3-4-night’s stay in beachside condominiums, family cruises, canoeing and rafting on the lake, and other thrilling outdoor activities. This year, many of us did not enjoy just sitting around; we wanted action and exhilaration; we wanted a combination of excitement and relaxation; and we reminisce about our favorite food and drinks on our vacations.
Notwithstanding, anyone who has lived in the age of COVID-19 has experienced an adventure of a lifetime. The aforementioned sentence assumes that many people with this experience have already passed, unfortunately. The adventure that I am thinking about entails experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, fear of being sick, living with fear of dying, social distancing, quarantines, job losses, inactivity, loneliness, dealing with personal adversities, coping with stress, experiencing changes and adaptation to changes. The only thing that is constant during this time is change itself.
Do you find yourself weighed down by your seemingly unfortunate lot in life? Or do you embrace the struggle? Life is demanding a “course change” from all of us. We do not control the world; we only control ourselves. Given the aforementioned realities, I share the following points with you: First, practice being ok with the present discomforts of life. As we prepare for General Elections this November, do all you can to calm your inner voice of fear or resentment. Since we live in a democracy with people being free to have differing opinions, watch your thoughts, your words, and your activities on social media. Tell yourself, that even if you are uncomfortable with differences, you have a moral obligation to respect people who share opinions that are different from yours. Maybe, some of us could use an adjustment of attitude.
Secondly, pray with dependence on God’s sovereign grace. When so many things are uncertain, we are reminded how utterly dependent we are on God. Our starting point is God—the source of our being and the God who loves everyone. God so loved the world speaks to the scope of God’s love---the whole world. He loves not just a nation; not just good people; not only people who love Him. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely. Pray for our political leader; pray for your pastor and church family; and pray for your family and local community.
Finally, after months of being unable to meet during this pandemic control measures, many churches have recently re-opened or are planning to re-open. It is understandable that a commitment to safety is necessary and a Christian duty. Undoubtedly, this virus is extremely contagious and as pastor I am hesitant to bring you back to church for congregational services. In short, I don’t want anyone to contract or spread the virus at our church. That being said, we want to resume Bible Study and Sunday morning worship service in compliance with New York State COVID-19 restriction measures. People with comorbidities, preferably should not attend these services. We will continue to provide you with our worship service posted on our church website, YouTube and Facebook. You will also receive a hard copy of the sermon.
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love!
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
To the faithful brethren in Christ who are at West Henrietta: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
My prayer for you is that you are maintaining your passion for Jesus, enjoying good health, enjoying time with family, listening to my weekly sermons, and that you are sending to Laurie your financial support to our church. We must keep up with our monthly financial obligations, notwithstanding no weekly meetings in the building for almost 5 months.
Undoubtedly, we are all feeling the effects of social isolation. Loneliness is painful and distressful and consequently, we do not choose or enjoy being lonely. The truth is that we are all getting tired of being bored and lonely at home. I know you miss our weekly gathering for Sunday worship, Bible study, and prayer meetings. I miss seeing your smiling faces and hearing your laughter. I do feel very sad when I learn about your illness and I am unable to visit you at the hospital or at home. All I can do is pray for you and/or call you. Part of my pastoral experience is simply to be there, to listen, and give comfort and words of encouragement. Given the aforementioned, let me share the following words of encourage-ment with you.
We are living in difficult and unchartered times, and we should practice the spiritual disciplines of daily prayers, study of the Scriptures and private devotions in order to stay present with God. We should not practice these disciplines out of a sense of duty, but out of a desire for an ongoing vibrant relationship with God. Failure to depend on the power of prayer and the daily enabling of the Holy Spirit, is an indication that we are depending on our own strength. When we depend on our own strength, we can get dried up, weary, and we easily become discouraged. In other words, any attempt to be a Christian on our own strength requires greater effort, and strength that we don’t have, and we get tired and want to give up. Satan would have a temporary victory to lead members of the church to a defeated life during this time.
We must be vigilant, especially living in this age of inactivity at our church. Vigilance is primarily keeping up with prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and practicing other spiritual disciplines. Vigilance is an awareness of being grounded fully in the truths of our faith. The Apostle Peter exhorts us: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus knows ahead of time what the enemy is up to and He will keep us ahead of what the devil may be trying to do against us.
We have to be paying attention. We cannot afford to have our faith in God diminish for any reason. Let’s pray that during this difficult time of COVID-19, we reach that place in our spiritual journey, where we pray, read God’s Word, and do our daily private devotions, simply because we love our fellowship with Jesus. When was the last time you felt passionate about the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ? Let us pray for a deep passion to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with victorious living.
It would be remiss of me to end my message without saying something about reopening our church. This will be a complex undertaking. Please be patient with us! Some of you might be thinking that we should rebel against authority and return to Sunday morning worship services. I want to make the following point very clear: My weekly sermons are posted on our church website and YouTube, and hard copies are distributed to members who are not connected to the internet. We are holding off any meeting at church, particularly because we are concerned about our people with pre-existing conditions and those 65 years and older, who are at greater risk of contracting the virus. In the meantime, we will clean and disinfect the church, and stock masks and hand sanitizer for you.
Please pray for me, the moderator, deacons, trustees, other officers, choristers, and all members of our church family in general. We are one family in the Lord. Keep praying, keep studying the Scriptures, and keep up your daily private devotions! What a day of rejoicing it will be when we eventually return to church! My prayer is that while we wait, we become closer to the Lord, closer as a church family, and more passionate for the person and work of Jesus, our Lord.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God (Psalm 42:1).
In His Service,
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ
God has designed His church and put us together for His purpose and direction. St. Paul teaches that we the members of our local church are members of the body of Christ. When you belong to Christ, you are part of His body. He is the head. He leads the body, and He orchestrates its movements. And you are connected not only to Him, but also to every other part of the body as well. As we read in Scripture, "God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be" (1 Corinthians 12:18, NIV).
COVID-19 has really changed our lives in ways we could never predict. We’re more than 4 months into quarantine life, and at this point, it’s hard to remember a time before COVID-19 that doesn’t seem like that was long ago. It leaves us trying very hard both to make sense of it and to get used to the radical lifestyle changes the virus has brought. Most pressing on my mind is our loss of congregate Sunday morning worship services, bible study and other weekly meetings.
I miss worshiping and fellowshipping with you! I haven’t seen some of you since March of this year. I believe that God is using this time to speak to His people. He is using this crisis in life to wake us up and help us see what truly matters in life. While we love the fellowship at church, we really don’t need a building to worship God. He wants us to spend time in prayer and reading of His word (the bible) at home. He wants you to sing your favorite hymns and songs at home. He wants us to make every moment to matter, be happy, find our purpose, and value the privilege of being alive.
If you would agree with me that God is intentional and purposeful about all that He does, then you would have to agree that God has a purpose for each one of us at a time as this. His purpose is that we individually or as family units, representing West Henrietta Baptist Church become a shining light for the testimony of Jesus Christ. The question on my mind, is how we may best serve God’s plan and purpose at this time? I encourage you that whatever else you feel called to do, you will reach out with a word of encouragement to others. Some of us are by nature encouragers, while some have to make special effort. Nonetheless, it is required of us to encourage one another to become our better selves.
Many people are experiencing a challenge of faith resulting from sickness, financial problems, marital and other family problems, loneliness, and inability to connect with congregate church worship services. Connecting with members of your church family or any other Christian with a word of encouragement can help them move from fear to faith. Reaching out to each other daily is how we beat loneliness and deepen our relationships—even if we are sitting at home alone. Praying for one another is real spiritual warfare that actually changes things, and it is worth all the time we can devote to it. Pray daily for your church. Make intercessions daily for your pastor, moderator, deacons, choristers, committees/boards, families, and our political leaders at local, state and national levels.
Let’s face it—life can be rough at times because we live in a broken world plagued with diseases and other natural disasters, sickness, economic struggles, relational problems, and sin. We sometimes find ourselves right on the edge—ready to give up on our marriage, give up on a child, or give up on our faith. We might get to the point where we feel like we can’t take it any longer.
When this happens, sometimes the only difference between us going on or giving up is a simple word of encouragement. Encouragement here is not to feel sympathy for someone or feeling bad for them. Rather, encouragement is to inspire with courage, and help someone to persevere. Simply put, your encouragement may be delivered with a visit compliant with COVID-19 restrictions, a phone call, a letter, and/or a prayer. With God’s enabling, we can!
Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee!
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is it ever okay to complain? To complain is to make known one’s irritation or frustration about some matter. Certainly it’s legitimate to raise objections about conditions that are clearly unjust or impractical and need to be changed. Equally, complaining about everything is unchristian. Christians are called by God to exercise virtues like patience or endurance, self-control , humility, and generosity. Jesus was very patient with his disciples who were sometimes thickheaded, lazy, selfish, and slow to believe. This makes his self-control even more admirable.
Let me point out the following three contexts in which we are required to demonstrate patience:
The first type is the patience needed when facing a nuisance of some kind. Nuisances constitute a set of circumstances that really irritate you, and you would love to complain about it, but you hold your tongue. Some nuisances we encounter are weather that appears schizophrenic, complaining people, telemarketers and robocalls, people who cut the line in the supermarket, slow moving traffic, litter and people who litter, loud neighbors, no available parking spaces, and the current political climate.
The second type of patience is called for when facing boredom. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and the social distancing restrictions that closed workplaces, churches, and the eventual closure of congregate gatherings, we continue to experience discomfort and boredom. The reality is that we associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People now do not know how to sit still, and we feel guilty when we are not doing anything. Today, inactivity has become the ultimate sin. You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety and stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration. Our desire is to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’ – it’s a desire for sensory stimulation. If you think about those times when you’re bored, it’s
usually because you did not know what to do; really during these times there is not much to be done outside the house.
The third type of patience is the most serious and significant. It is the patience required when one suffers in some way, either physically or psychologically. None of us are happy about what the coronavirus has done to our lives and our country. We yearn for the time when we could go out in public to restaurants and shows, shake hands with strangers, and hug and kiss our friends. After months of dealing with the virus most of us want to return to the old normal. Soon after the arrival of the virus in our country, our losses individually and collectively have been enormous and we want our lives back. But, opening up too soon can make things just as bad as they once were and cause needless infections and deaths.
I appeal to you to be patient. Be patient with God as He might appear to be taking some time to answer your prayers. COVID-19 is unlike any crisis we have dealt with during the past 100 years. There are multitudes of people who have lost their jobs, they have no money, they are about to be homeless or already homeless, and they are fearful and hopeless. Don’t be mad with God because He has put meeting the needs of others ahead of yours. Secondly, be patient with your pastor. I am working hard to provide you with a weekly sermon and other communication through the internet. Those of you who have no such access receive written hard copies. We will not resume congregate worship services until it is safe to do so. It would be too painful if a worshiper was to be infected with the virus through any such meeting. For this reason, please be patient and prayerful!
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
We Will Get Through This
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace.
Coronavirus has disrupted so many of our normal activities ranging from sports events, social gatherings, including church services, voluntary isolation, quarantines, and social distancing. In short, we have given up our normal routines and practices; many of these being our comfort zones. The situation we are facing due to coronavirus has physiological, psychological, social, economic and spiritual repercussions.
While the new realities vary from one person to another, some common experiences involve taking care of children or parents, homeschooling children, inability to attend a funeral or visit a loved one in a hospital or nursing home, and financial stress maybe due to loss of job. The truth is that, at this point we are simply trying to manage our daily lives. History teaches us that people respond to crisis in both adaptive and maladaptive ways, so I want to offer you some recommendations to aid adaptive and positive ways to adjust to the new realities you are experiencing.
Accept your feelings as normal
You need to operate within your strongest self and accept your feelings as normal, because this is a time for both personal and collective crises. Feelings such as fear, anxiety, worry, anger, and sadness are normal because the information receives from the media can be overwhelming to process. However, we often allow negative emotions to get the best of us. Believe me, you can experience the peace of God in the midst of stress and distress. Trust in God breaks the paralyzing grip of fear, anxiety, worry, anger and sadness. Entrust yourself fully in the caring hands of our Heavenly Father.
Forge and sustain social relationships
Coronavirus helps us to discover what is important in our lies and what is not. We loved to go shopping, visiting with family members, and going to church, the movie and occasional parties. We cannot do any of the aforementioned at this time owing to the social distancing restrictions. Our voluntary social distancing helps us to see the importance of relationships. By now most people own a mobile phone, and I guess you may own one or two. With the absence of church meetings, it is vital to connect with your social supports using virtual meetings and social media.
It is likely that people being bored at home may be inclined to bad messengers and pessimistic in their outlook on life. Therefore, avoid or limit your time with such people whose conduct becomes toxic. Toxicity may manifest itself in behaviors such as negativity, gossip, unapologetically opinionated, lying, manipulative, being self-centered on their needs vs. yours, and these negative behaviors can take a toll on your well-being. On the contrary, positive and supportive relationships helps you to feel healthier, happier, and more satisfied with your relationships.
Focus on the Word of God/Read you Bible
Following the outbreak of coronavirus churches have terminated all public mass gatherings, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are dying, and unemployment and hardships are present like plagues. One major silver lining is that many people are turning to the Word of God for guidance and comfort. They are discovering that Scriptures can help to make sense of the confusion in these tumultuous times. Make scripture reading a major part of your daily activity.
Try to sing some inspirational hymns/songs
I know for a number of us, including myself, singing is not our greatest strength. I am not asking you to enter a singing contest, but simply to make a joyful sound; being yourself when you are singing. You can find hundreds of inspirational songs in any song book, hymn book, YouTube or Google. Singing can help improve your health and weII-being. Singing relieves feelings of depression and loneliness. Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin in the brain which lowers stress and anxiety levels. If you are persistent in singing songs/hymn, by the time we resume worship services most of you will be good candidates for the choir. Praise God in advance!
Be steadfast in prayer
Jesus shows that he honors prayer is his wonderful promise: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened (Matt. 7:7-8). His promise is a solemn one by which He pledges His divine word. It is a comprehensive and unconditional promise to his people., and
We cannot be selfish in our prayers. The Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) teaches us to remember the needs of others. Please remember those who are lonely at home, which includes the elderly in nursing homes, the mentally ill and addicts who are asked to live without their support groups. Remember in your prayers the frontline workers, which includes doctors, nurses, and other medical staff who often stay away from their families because they are afraid of taking coronavirus home. Pray for EMT workers who work the closest with people sick with coronavirus from the point of picking them at home and transporting them to the hospital. Pray for public transport employees, which includes bus and train drivers, and UPS and FEDEX delivery drivers. Pray for all God’s people!
Pray for the forgiveness of the Nation’s sins, and a national revival. Listen to God’s word of assurance:
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (II Chronicles 7:13-14).
Listen to Hosea 6:1-3: "Come, let us return to the Lord! He has torn us in pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time, he will restore us so we can live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring."
Praise God Unceasingly
Every morning you get up, praise God! Every night you get in bed, praise God for His Goodness! Living a life of praise is not only the most enjoyable way to live, but it’s also one of the most powerful ways to change your life. Your faith isn’t complete without praise. Colossians 2:7 says that you abound in faith with thanksgiving. Praise affects you, it affects the devil, and it affects God. It touches everything and every part of your life.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Phil. 4:4-8).
Paul didn’t just say it once; he said it twice. He didn’t want anyone thinking he had made a mistake or that there were exceptions to what he said. We are always supposed to be rejoicing in the Lord. It’s a command, not a suggestion to do it if we feel like it.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home:
Yours In Christ’s Service
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor
America At A Crossroads
To God’s people at West Henrietta Baptist Church -- who are faithful in their union with Christ Jesus:
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
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. I trust you are doing good as you read this message. We affirm our faith in God that throughout the years He has been good to us. No matter what, God still loves us.
All of us face difficult times and we often deal with disruptive and unexpected events that threaten to harm us. Some of these times are emotional, some are spiritual, some are physical and some are financial. Among our present challenges is the outbreak of a new coronavirus, identified as COVID-19, that has infected and killed thousands of people worldwide following an outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Symptoms of this coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties (WHO, 2020).
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Those of us with good memory will recall the following five global health emergencies: swine flu in 2009, polio in 2014, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016, and Ebola in 2019 (WHO).
The virus has been reported in 22 states, including New York. The majority of deaths occurred in Washington State. Two people died in Florida today. In severe cases, this virus can lead to pneumonia, multiple organ failure, and even death. Most troubling about this virus is infected persons may not show any symptoms, and that little is known about it, although human-to-human transmission has been confirmed. The challenge is finding the courage to face this time of fear and uncertainty. I recommend to you the following suggestions:
Don’t minimize the potential of this virus to make you sick. You know the old saying, “it’s not as bad as people are being led to believe.” The crises associated with this virus may not evaporate of their own accord over time. Consequently, each one of us is obligated to avoid being exposed to this virus:
1. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.
2. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and use a greater than 60 percent alcohol-based
hand sanitizer whenever you return home from any activity that involves locations where other people have been.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
To the converse, don’t become afraid, panic, or paranoid. Seek out information from credible and reliable sources. Practice the necessary precautions! Remain calm! In Psalm 131:2 we read, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul.” In Colossians 3:15, Paul tells us to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), which we have been studying for the past three weeks is instructive. This sermon covers a variety of spiritual principles that grows out of the Kingdom of God. During the closing verses of chapter 7, Jesus explains that as believers we should not worry. Of immense comfort for all of us are the reminders that if God, the Father feeds birds, how much more will he feed (take care of) his children (v. 26). Jesus speaks comfort to our hearts in verse 34 when he encourages us not to worry about tomorrow.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor