ZBCC's Response to COVID-19
December 11, 2020On Wednesday night (Dec 9) the Ministry Council met, in part to discuss the provincial COVID-19 restrictions announced on Tuesday. I know that many of you have questions, and so I wanted to update you that we reached a unanimous consensus to continue to invite in-person participation in worship services on Sunday mornings, as well as an in-person Christmas Eve service (Dec 24 at 6 pm), both of which will also be livestreamed.
We believe that the Bible is clear that, although a local church is far more than a mere gathering, a local church is never less than a gathering. While much proverbial ink has been spilled over the last months, announcing the end of church and worship gatherings as we know it, I believe that if anything, the pandemic and related shutdowns has only highlighted how crucial a steadfast commitment to weekly corporate worship gatherings, where the Word of God is heard, prayed, read, sung, and preached, really is (in addition to other opportunities to gather, which can also have great value!).
The word in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for "assembly", ekklesia, is the same word the New Testament writers use to refer to the local church. It's simply the term for a gathering. But when applied to the church, it carries the rich Old Testament connotations of standing together as God's chosen people (e.g. Deut. 9:10, Judg 20:2, 1 Kgs 8:14, 1 Chr 28:8). A church is a blood-bought people, devoted to the worship of the one true God...set apart from the world, committed to serve one another and love our neighbours. And we do all this by assembling together in space and time. The point being that gathering physically for corporate worship is an incredibly significant thing, and that while we're permitted, we're committed to doing everything possible to continue as we have.
I think that it's really important that we remember that we don't only gather for ourselves (i.e. to "get" something), but that a major reason to gather is that even simply by your presence, you give. You give presence to those who are weary with loneliness when you sit in the same room, make eye contact and wave from a distance, and then allow them to hear your worship (Col 3:16). You give opportunity to those who don't have access to the livestream, who could not otherwise participate, to join in praising God (Gal 6:2). You give testimony to a watching world, of where your confidence, joy and hope lie (Ph 2:14-16). You give encouragement to those who labour for the sake of your soul, who themselves will give an account for their work on your behalf (Heb 13:17).
As I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago, each of us will have to weigh carefully what we'll choose to do week to week. Please prayerfully consider how you'll choose to participate on this Sunday, and each Sunday morning:
If you believe that the Spirit of the Lord is directing you through prayer and the Word to join us in person, trusting that He moves even in less than ideal circumstances, ask yourself if there might be other activities in the course of your week that you can foresake in order to come to worship with as little risk of bringing the virus with you as possible. If you have discerned that you are unable to attend in person on Sunday mornings presently, I encourage you to continue to consecrate (set apart) that time for the Lord by committing yourself to viewing the stream live.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.
Grace & Peace,