To all LCM Congregations:
A Second Pastoral Word of Encouragement in the midst of the spread of the Covid-19.

 

"Let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him up ... May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. "(Rom. 15: 2,5-7)

 

Since my first pastoral letter, much has happened, the pandemic outbreak of Covid-19 is slowly taking a toll in human relationships. The simple act of trust that we take for granted each day as we shake hands in greetings, giving spontaneous hugs and saying , "Bless you," to a sneeze, have all changed. Covid-19 has done more than spreading illness, it has also spread distrust in all relationships and sometimes allowed fear to make our decisions.

 

Yet it is in times of crisis and stress that allows the people of God to stand out and lead by example. Instead of the expected response of decisions made out of fear, or adding fuel to distrust necessitated by a survival instinct, we choose to be dictated by the word of God to love the neighbour and the acknowledgment of God's Providence in times of need.

 

As a Church, how then do we continue to remain faithful in gathering for worship and fellowship?

 

The following are some advice and suggestions that we should practice:

 

1. Do not cease having Communion services just because of fears. The Holy

Communion is even more important now for the people of God as we receive the means of grace from the Lord in times of great need. The Communion is also the gathering point that brings the people of God together in a communal witness. Conduct Communion by observing basic hygiene such as sanitizing your hands publicly in the sight of the congregation before serving the elements. Serving wafer instead of using bread where you need to tear it with your fingers. Serving wine in small pre-filled cups or dipping the wafer bread into the wine cup.

 

2. Counsel your members who had just returned from countries that are at risk, to self-quarantine, for the love of the neighbor.

 

3. Counsel your members who may have the normal flu and cough, to stay home for that Sunday (especially those teaching children in Sunday School) so that they may not scare the rest of the people as the level of fear is currently very high. If they really need to be in church for reasons of duty, wear a mask and make it known to your leaders that you are having only normal flu symptoms.

 

4. Churches that already have video recording facilities for sermons, should consider the possibility of further utilizing their equipment to go online and provide live streaming of their worship services via conferencing Apps such as Zoom, Microsoft, Skye, etc. This will keep those who choose self-quarantine to continue to be in touch with your community. It is not ideal and should not be a replacement for attending worship services but in this context, a prudent thing to do. This would also be very helpful for the elderly who are house-bound. The Church should move towards the direction of using modern technology that is available to enhance and support the work of ministry. This pandemic only highlighted the practicality and urgency.

 

Let this crisis be an opportunity for us to care, love and pray for each other, for our neighbors, for our country and for the world at large. The light shines brightest when it is darkest. Let us be that light of hope, love and strength.

 

May the grace and peace of the Lord be with you all.

 

Prayerfully,

Rev. Thomas Low (Acting Bishop, LCM)

6th March 2020