To all LCM Congregations :
A Pastoral Word of Encouragement
in the midst of the spread of the novel corona virus
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? (Matt. 5:13)
"You are the light of the world...16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14, 16)
In this recent event of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, I perceived an atmosphere of fear, tinged with a sense of panic. Social media is on an overdrive with many so-called 'latest news,' unverified, of the coronavirus in Wuhan and its spread. Some of these are helpful information of official statistics and practical advice to keep the contagion at bay. But the kind that spread like wild fire belongs to the kind of Doom's day zombie apocalypse scenarios in Wuhan. Fear and panic have a way of spreading exponentially, leading to massive hoarding of face mask, sanitizers and food.
As children of God, we must be responsible and discerning in our behaviour and actions. There is enough fear and panic in this world, we don't need to add to it. Paul said, “...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7). We need to be the salt of the earth to give flavour of hope to our neighbours. We need to be the light, to dispel the darkness of fake news and fearmongering.
The following is my advice to fellow Christians:
1. Verify every piece of news or information before forwarding it to our friends. If you can't verify it, don't sent it out. Let it ends with you.
2. Before you send a piece of information or link out, ask yourself this, "would it propagate hope and encouragement or would it cause greater fear and anxiety?" In other words, does it really help?
3. It is not the time to play professional critic and start pointing fingers as to who is to blame. Rather, ask yourself, “how can I help?"
4. Above all, pray. Get your whole family to pray together during table grace and before you sleep. Get your friends to pray too, start a prayer chain if you find it helpful – caution: it is to be a prayer group not a chat group that gossip.
The following is my advice to our LCM congregations and pastors:
1. Make hand sanitizers available (if you can source it) at the ushers' table for anyone who needs it. (If possible, put it in your plan to install sanitizers dispensers on the wall like those you find in hospitals. This is a long-term plan, to set a good healthy culture of hygiene in your congregation).
2. If those who have been assigned duties as ushers, worship leaders or such; are coughing or sneezing; reassign someone else if possible. If not, at least let the wear a mask.
3. Make sure that the pastor and all who assist in the Holy Communion clean their hands with hand sanitizers just before serving the elements.
4. Make sure that hand soap are fully refilled and made available in your restrooms.
5. Provide wet wipes and sanitizers in the children room.
6. Instruct your cleaners do a thorough job of cleaning the church before the weekend and wipe down all surfaces with light cleaning agent.
7. Pastors need to clean their hands before and after greeting their members at the end of the service. If people are not comfortable shaking hands, tell them its absolutely alright. No offense taken.
This crisis will come to an end, it will blow over. But the witness that we bear as children of God in this crisis is even more important. Let us be witness of hope, encouragement, generosity, patience and prayer. It is in the deepest darkness that light shines brightest. Let us be that light.
May the grace and peace of the Lord be with you all.
Rev. Thomas Low (Acting Bishop, LCM)
10th February 2020