Latimer Congregational Church

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Coronavirus Update (16/3)

By Iain Clements, 16 Mar 2020
Dear Latimer Church, 
I'm sure, like me, you heard or watched the Prime Ministers' press conference with concern this evening. The growing spread of the Coronavirus is an unprecedented time in living memory. 
 
Please take this situation and the government guidance seriously. We can give thanks that the Lord has given us medical experts who understand the situation. The Lord has also given us a government that we are to obey, and as Christians we are to be model citizens in this (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13). 
While the restrictions may feel onerous, and perhaps even unnecessary to some of us at present in East Yorkshire, we must appreciate that in keeping them there is an opportunity to show love to others - to the most vulnerable in our society, and to the health care workers who will have to face the difficult situation which is coming. They are also for all our good. As the Chief Medical Officer has explained it is important to take what seems like drastic actions before things seem like they are needed. For most of us, the important issue is not catching the virus but spreading it. 
I would encourage us all to trust the Lord. Jesus Christ is on the throne! He rules! And he has defeated death. The truths we have seen in Scripture about God on Sunday mornings remain true - and we must hold on to them in these difficult times. 
I know for some of you, this is a time of understandable anxiety. Can I assure you that whatever is happening, Jesus Christ cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). This world is not our home, we are looking forward to a better future with Christ.
Let us take this opportunity not to add to the mindless speculation in the media, but to pray - to cry out to the Lord for his mercy on our nation and world, and that this may be used to see a great turning to the Lord Jesus. 
We must also not be taken by surprise. While these days are unprecedented in living memory, they are not unusual historically. Our fellow believers before us have faced plagues and the Lord has proved himself faithful. God himself warns us in his word that there will be times of great difficulty before the Lord Jesus returns, and we the church are not exempt from this. I cannot promise it will be easy - but I can promise the faithfulness of the Lord. 
As well as following government advice, we have a great opportunity to show our trust in the Lord and topractically love others. While others are panic buying, we can share knowing where our daily bread comes from. While it is right to consider our own families, we also have opportunities to look out to our neighbours and those on their own. 
Clearly we will need to change how we do things as a church over the coming weeks and months. The worship of our Lord and hearing him speak remains a priority, especially in these days - but the way we do this may have to adapt both to include those who cannot attend, and to recognise that viruses do not turn away at the entrance to a church building. There is much to prayerfully consider here and I will let you know any changes. However, I can assure you that somehow there will always be some form of worship available to access on the Lord's day, and new sermons to listen to. 
However what must not change is our love for one another.  While it might be that for a time our physical proximity decreases, our fellowship must increase. Let us look out for one another, be praying for one another, phoning one another, using other means to remind each other of the Lord's love for us. Let us also be sharing practical needs. And if we are younger, or fit and healthy, let's be ready to work to serve those who aren't. 
How often do we read Romans 8:28-29 and take those verses for granted? But they remain as true tonight as they have ever been. 
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good., for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined her also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also he also glorified" Romans 8:28-30
With love, in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Iain