教會對新冠病毒(COVID-19)的回應與準備 Our Church Response to COVID-19
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
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單靠我們自己的想法而非聖經的準則來看待這次事件，是危險而偏頗的(箴言 3:5-6)。身為基督徒，我們不該讓焦慮主導我們的反應(腓立比書4:6-7)，而是在禱告中相信我們的神是全知並慈愛的關顧著我們的需要(馬太福音6:31-32、詩篇94:19)，並且將我們肩上憂慮的重擔卸下給神(彼得前書 5:7)。
把憂慮卸給神並不代表輕忽事件嚴重性(箴言 14:6)，而是運用神給的分辨力(希伯來書5:14)帶著永恆的盼望(哥林多後書5:1-10)繼續在這艱困的時刻行出祂的旨意。掌權的神是良善而慈愛的，祂叫萬事互相效力，讓愛神的人得著益處(羅馬書 8:28)。
我們的心思意念也會在此時被顯明出來。而神最看重的是我們如何照祂子女的樣式，用信心來回應這令人恐懼的事件。若此刻我們能在神裡面得到平安而非恐懼(約伯記15:24)、盼望而非絕望(詩篇 42:11)、剛強而非疲乏(以賽亞書40:31)，不論是對神(彼得前書 1:7)或是對我們自己都是極寶貴的。
耶穌也曾教導預備祂的門徒以迎接將來更艱難的挑戰，其中也提及了瘟疫，正如今日教會所面對的新冠病毒(COVID-19)( 路加福音 21:11)。神告訴我們要有心理預備、做好準備、並且忍耐到底，特別是要與主內的肢體有深刻的連結(希伯來書 10:23-25)。
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. (Nahum 1:7)
Dear beloved church family,
We hope that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is ever more present to us in these times. We ask the Lord to continue to supply the church leadership with wisdom to know how to care for His flock in these times. It is a time for our confidence to grow in our great God (Joshua 1:9).
How should we view the COVID-19 crisis?
Understand that there is a danger in thinking it through only in our own understanding to the exclusion of biblical guidance (Prov 3:5-6). Our response as Christians cannot be sinful worry (Phil 4:6-7) but a putting on of prayer to our God who knows all things and cares for us (Mt 6:31-32, Ps 94:19) and releasing our worries as a burden from our shoulders to His (1 Pet 5:7).
It does not mean recklessly living (Prov 14:6) as if it were business as normal, but with God given discernment (Heb 5:14) continue to do His will in these difficult times with an eternal perspective (2 Cor 5:1-10), knowing that in His sovereign goodness, he desires to work this out for our ultimate good (Rom 8:28).
We understand that our hearts are being revealed, and what matters most to God is how we respond in faith as his children to these issues of fear. Its precious to him (1 Pet 1:7), and so to us also, to find trust instead of fear (Job 15:24), hope instead of despair (Ps 42:11), and strength instead of fainting (Isa 40:31).
Christians have a concern for the body, but more so for the soul (Mt 10:28). Though we may experience the body failing, there is to be a greater focus internally at what God is doing in our inner spiritual life- in the unfolding and unfailing grace given to us daily (1 Cor 4:16-18). So we are to cling to that grace being revealed daily!
Jesus prepared his disciples for greater difficulties ahead- including pestilence like COVID-19. (Lk 21:11). God tells us to expect it, be ready for it, and endure it, especially by making sure we have deep connections to the body of believers (Hebrews 10:23-25).
What has the church already done?
There are hand sanitizers available outside of the sanctuary and in the children Sunday school rooms that we encourage everyone to use. All children will have their hands cleaned under teachers’ supervision before entering the classrooms.
We have adjusted the cleaning protocol for our professional cleaners and provided them with additional supplies to ensure a deeper cleaning each week of the church facilities.
We have suspended refreshment service to eliminate the risk of virus spread due to food contamination.
We have moved to single serving sealed elements for communion so that there will be no personal handling of the communion elements.
What future adjustments are we going to make?
We will continue to obey state and federal mandated regulations for assemblies (Rom 13:1-2) as a minimum baseline. We are preparing equipment to broadcast our services through a streaming service to allow members who are currently staying at home due to quarantines or higher risk conditions to participate in our Sunday services virtually. We are also preparing for video conferencing capabilities to help members facilitate worship at home should the time come to move from physical to virtual services.
Meanwhile, we will continue to have our regular service schedules on Sundays, but at reduced occupancy as required by New York State. We encourage the practice of good hygiene and preventative precautions as loving neighbors (frequent hand washing, stay home if sick with fever or cough, obey local quarantine orders).
Important communication will be made via the website, Facebook, WeChat, email, or phone. Please make sure you are connected to stay updated as we make announcements about the upcoming baptismal service, Friday fellowships, etc., as well as video briefings from our pastors, and weekly prayer guides.
We will begin virtual services when there is community spread of COVID-19 here in Buffalo, or when the local school districts close, or when government agencies recommend suspending physical services. The church council is also actively monitoring the situation, and may decide to suspend physical services for other reasons as the situation changes. In the eventuality that our physical services are suspended, we encourage our congregation to extend hospitality and fellowship to one another while exercising discernment for public safety.
How should we engage the world?
It’s not about toilet paper, soup, and sanitizers only. As Christians, we are more concerned with the spiritual realities in operation (Rom 14:17). Despite conditions that are difficult, the Christian's view of heaven energizes him to live to please God through it (2 Cor 5:1-10).
Seize the opportunity to witness! One of God’s will for the saint is to be witnesses when calamities come (Lk 21:10-13). Acknowledge fears and connect the fact that disease and death is due to our sin (Rom 5:12) and the timeliness for them to call out to God (2 Cor 6:2) who gives life eternal (Jn 10:10).