Update on Worship – Sunday, March 22
Dear Church Family,
(For those of you who would rather watch a video of me speaking, for some reason, you may find it at the end of this post. This was made simply to undergo the experience of producing a video for YouTube before this Sunday)
As of March 17, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-11, which strictly prohibits all gatherings in public places or more than 50 people. It is likely that this restriction will be narrowed down in the days ahead, as the public health crisis that has been caused by Covid-19 continues. This has a direct impact on Crossway, which is likely to exceed 50 people in any gathering that we have, and would certainly exceed any further authorized restrictions.
We rightly understand that not all governmental restrictions are binding on churches; that, indeed, we are right at times to say with Peter and the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men.” The elders do not consider this to be one of those times. The restrictions being put in place are not undo restrictions on the right use of religious liberty, but are put in place because of an unforeseen health crisis. Given the information available, it seems right out of the love of our neighbors to restrict the spread of the disease by following such guidelines under the providential hand of God.
This, of course, does not mean that we cannot be fed from God’s word on Sunday morning. By God’s good grace, he has given us the ability to hear and learn from his word even in cases of physical isolation through the technology given to us in the use of computers and the internet. We desire to make the best use of this technology as we can, yet we do so with some reservation and hesitancy.
That hesitancy is based off of the fact that meeting virtually is a truly sub-par way of worshiping our God. I (Doug W.) would hesitate strongly to even call it meeting in any way. At no time should we suppose that virtual church is the way in which God had envisioned his church to gather any more than virtual heaven is the manner in which God wishes us to dwell with him and others evermore. Or, as we are the body of Christ, we should not suppose that our meeting virtually is right any more than thinking that Christ’s incarnation was simply virtual. Rather, our hope is that we will dwell physically with God in the resurrection, afforded to us by the grace of the real, physical Jesus Christ. There is no virtual Lord’s Supper, no virtual Baptism, no virtual presence that could ever replace actually physical meeting. Our use of such technology is driven by the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves, and is meant to be a reminder of God’s kindness through his word, while we long for and await a better reunion.
With these caveats in mind, later this week we will be publishing a small order-of-worship for our members to use at home. This will include our normal portions of worship: a call to worship with a responsive reading, songs, a Scripture reading for repentance and grace, and a video of a sermon prepared by pastor Doug. The songs and the video will all be posted on YouTube, and accessed through our website. We would encourage you to use these things as a time of devotional and teaching in your homes on Sunday morning.
So long as you are able, we would also ask that members try to gather in small groups of less than 10 (perhaps two families is best) on Sunday morning to engage in worship together. This suggestion comes with some obvious and necessary limitations: any who are feeling sick, or who are high risk, should not gather with others and instead continue to practice isolation. Yet, while this isolation is unfortunate, for the rest of us it is important to limit our loneliness and isolation, especially while we worship.
Finally, a word about giving. As the provision of offerings is a part of the worship of God, we realize that with such restrictions in place it is harder to actively engage in worship of that kind. To remedy this, the elders offer two suggestions. The first is that you are always able to mail checks to the church, or drop them off when available. If you wish to drop off your offering (which is likely best), contact pastor Doug so that he can make sure he is available to let you in. The other option, which we are looking into, is online giving. We hope to have more information available about this later this week.
To all, stay safe, and make sure that you are reaching out to members. Talk to them, text them, build them up in the Lord. Pray for them in this time, and for the troubles to come. And remember, as always, the promise of our Savior: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
With the affection of Christ,
The elders of Crossway Christian Church