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Resource Roundup: Week of March 30

In the coronavirus crisis, we’re all navigating new waters together: individuals and families, priests and congregations. So let’s learn from each other, as Christians around the globe contemplate how to respond in Christlikeness. Below we’ve summarized some recent helpful articles from various Christian publications, outlining ways to respond both personally and corporately.

 


I’m Afraid. Are You? from Anglican Compass

Canon Greg Goebel examines our natural fears during times of crisis, particularly a habit we have of using Scripture out of context to downplay fear instead of bringing it to the Lord.

“We may be misunderstanding Jesus if we think he is saying, ‘Do not feel fear!’ A better way to understand what Jesus is telling us is ‘When you are afraid, trust in me! I’m here!’”

Canon Greg encourages the Church to be a community where fear (and other feelings, for that matter) are not brushed aside, but where we invite Jesus to speak to our legitimate feelings.

“Jesus always points fear to faith. Faith in him. And over time, yes, our fears can subside as we accept them and yet put our faith in Christ. We can’t force them away, but we can re-direct our attention to our sure foundation. Jesus is adding a beautiful, hopeful vision of the future alongside the difficult realities of the situation we may be encountering.”

Read the full article here.

 


A Word from the Lord with Archbishop Foley Beach

“Anxiety and fear are in our lives and we need to get alone with God in prayer” is the title of a recent devotional from Archbishop Foley, who offers short messages as daily devotionals on the Word from the Lord site, or delivered to your email.

He quotes Mark 1:35, when Jesus left the house early to go out to a solitary place to pray. “He got alone by himself with his Father… If there’s one Christian discipline that is neglected by today’s Christians, I believe it’s this discipline of getting alone with the Lord.”

In another he encourages, “If you will practice the presence of God, you will have peace amidst the storm.”

Subscribe to the daily video and audio devotionals here.

 


Asian Americans Call on the Church to Preach Against Coronavirus Racism from Christianity Today

The Asian American Christian Collaborative has issued a statement calling on churches to actively address racist behavior toward Asians during the coronavirus pandemic. The two collaborators on the statement have experienced xenophobic comments either themselves or have seen it in their communities.

“Worried that fellow Christians were ignoring or downplaying the problem, even calling people ‘snowflakes’ for taking issue with terms like ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘Wuhan flu,’ they rallied together Asian American voices to address the racism they knew was real and posed a serious risk.”

The article cites increased media reports of racist incidents toward Asian Americans – and an FBI warning of potential increased incidents as well – and quotes Biola University professor Allen Yeh: ‘America first’ or ‘my own race first’ is not living out the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus defined our neighbor as the one who is most hated… In times of fear, take this as an opportunity to defend and support those who are most targeted and marginalized.”

Read the full article here.

 


Leaders, Pace Yourselves During the Quarantine from The Gospel Coalition

Pastor David Gundersen takes lessons learned from a non-stop crisis response to Hurricane Harvey to remind church leaders in this moment: Do not sprint into a marathon.

“Be disciplined not only to rest but to create new patterns and rhythms. Disruptions like the one we’re experiencing will put your mind on a treadmill that keeps your spirit churning even when you’re not actively working or worrying. [Jesus’s] years of public ministry were the most important years in world history, but he knew when to get away, when to take a break, when to say, ‘It’s not the time—my hour has not yet come.’”

Read the full article here.

 


by Rachel Moorman
Communications Associate
news@adots.org

Community-Building during COVID-19

Each week, ADOTS will be publishing stories of connectedness and ministry from around the Diocese during this time of social distancing. Please share the ways your church is ministering with Rachel Moorman at news@adots.org.

Some very heartwarming times of togetherness shared with us from Christ the King in Birmingham, AL!

Church Administrator Chrissy Coblentz writes in their recent newsletter, “Praise the Lord! The coronavirus has not stopped community from happening through Christ the King Anglican Church! It has been heartwarming to see the ways you’ve all been friends, neighbors, servants, and bringers of joy to each other during this whirlwind-of-a-week of social distancing.”

Recently a young parishioner celebrated her 11th birthday and could not have a birthday party due to social distancing rules. So, families from CTK and beyond organized a parade of vans “complete with honking, banners, cheering, balloons, flowers, and kids excitedly waving from their vehicles.” They all stopped across from her home, got out and sang happy birthday.

In addition to Sunday services, the church is livestreaming morning, noon, and evening prayer with Rector Fr. Michael Novotny, and Deacon Daniel Logan has used Facebook to livestream evening prayer as well throughout the week. “The setting is intimate,” writes Chrissy, “with a candle, an icon, and maybe a rogue child poking their head in now and then. It feels like you are in his home, with him and his family, praying for the needs of the Church and the world.”

One parishioner, Sharon Powers, is leading times of peaceful music in the evening through her talent as a harpist, via Facebook Live. “Is there anything more calming and wonderful than a harp at bedtime?” writes Chrissy. You can visit Sharon’s Harpstreams page here.

“I’ve heard many stories of people leaving toilet paper on door steps, delivering groceries to each other, checking in on elderly neighbors who cannot get out to the store, introverts reaching out to extroverts, kids doing video chats with each other, even ‘parking lot van-to-van play groups’ (where families park a few feet apart, roll down their windows and let the kids talk from van to van). People are doing their best to support local small businesses by ordering take out.”

She says some community groups have begun meeting online, and the CTK Youth also had their first meeting via Zoom.

“We are in the midst of a challenging and important time. Thankfully, we have a determined and creative parish who understand the importance of community! During this time of social distancing may we continue to look for ways to serve, while keeping others safe. This is a time of isolation — and isolation can often breed and intensify depression, anxiety, addictions, and other mental health issues.”

The church is asking parishioners to commit to pray for the congregation, and also commit to reaching out to each other.

 

Embracing Solitude, with Fr. Jack King

“We can only survive solitude if we cling to Christ there. And yet what we find of him in that solitude enables us to return to society as free persons.”
— Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines
By this time, many of us are confined to our homes, seeking respite in empty outdoor places when possible. Some may feel isolated; others may feel unable to find isolation with the energy of children or family around. We are, very rightfully, finding creative ways to stay connected with one another. But perhaps it’s becoming apparent that forced isolation is different from true solitude. No matter our situation, we are all still capable of creating our own internal noise.
Solitude was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry, as he often broke away from the crowds to pray in quiet places. While we are currently forced out of contact with even the smallest crowd, we may consider this an opportunity to walk in the ways of Jesus, to seek solitude with him, and to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Fr. Jack King, Dean of Tennessee and Rector of Apostles in Knoxville, TN, today offers us encouragement to approach solitude and silence with simplicity.

Fr. Jack King

What is the place of silence and solitude during a pandemic?

The more I have pursued the presence of God in silence and solitude, the more I have discovered the need for simplicity. Solitude and simplicity go together. When I have been weary in soul and needing fresh inspiration from the Lord, I trust God to speak through small and few things.

  • I pray the Jesus Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’
  • I may meditate on one verse of Scripture.
  • I gaze upon one icon and listen to God speak to me through the image.

I will pray using one of these methods, not all three. Flitting from one prayer method to another only increases restlessness. Centering the heart on the presence of Christ is the great challenge.

One feels tempted and pressured to ‘get it right’ when praying in silence. Measuring ourselves in prayer delays the stillness we crave. The desert fathers were well acquainted with this inner pressure. A monk once asked Abba Bessarion about life in community. “What am I to do?” the monk asked. Abba Bessarion replied, “Maintain silence and do not measure yourself.”

The Anglican divine Jeremy Taylor said of the Daily Office, “I would rather you pray often than long.” I believe the same concerning silence and solitude. Seek silence and solitude often, unconcerned with the duration or how well you listen. Keep returning to the still, small voice of God again and again.

When the coronavirus turmoil changed American life, I sat for about 15 minutes in silence before an icon my father gave me. In the icon of Christ the Vine I saw all I needed for the days ahead. I heard the Lord speak through the image, “Abide in Me, seek my beauty, and fruit will come.” And that is enough inspiration for the days ahead.

 


by Rachel Moorman
Communications Associate
news@adots.org

Service to Neighbors during COVID-19

Each week, ADOTS will be publishing stories of connectedness and ministry from around the Diocese during this time of social distancing. Please share the ways your church is ministering with Rachel Moorman at news@adots.org.

God is With You

Geri Poirier, Church Administrator for Christ the King in Hiawassee, GA, writes how a flyer of a Bible verse being shared around their congregation ended up impacting her postal worker.

One parishioner, Carmen, shared a flyer about COVID-19 that professed Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Geri took that flyer, printed it off, and put it in her mailbox, where her postal worker found it and needed the encouragement. The postal worker wrote to Geri that she had been nervous about delivering mail and handling packages during this time, “but you reminded me that I shouldn’t worry and God will bring us through this, all in His time. Thank you for the encouragement!”

Geri says, “Now someone was inspired to make this flyer, Carmen saw it and was inspired to send our way, I was inspired to print it and put it in the mailbox and [Geri’s postal worker] was inspired to say thank you and I am sure she will be inspired to share her experience with others as well. A whole lot of inspiration going on, and all that sure doesn’t come from the human side of us!”


Be Available

A quick suggestion on loving your neighbors from Canon Greg Goebel:

“Someone suggested I post a note on my online neighborhood group about praying for people who are quarantined. So I posted a comment that simply said, ‘If you or someone you know is in need of prayer or a spiritual conversation by phone, I’m available.’ I had a great response of people sharing it. This is a way that we can serve our neighbors in addition to providing groceries for seniors or those quarantined.”

A Message from Dean Michael on Preparing Well

The following letter from Dean Michael Guernsey to the congregation of Holy Cross Cathedral is published here with his permission.

3/27/20

My friend died today. Paul was in no way connected with Holy Cross (other than being my friend). He was a faithful member of the church I pastored in South Carolina, and I worked closely with him for the years I was there. He was in his 70s and he died of complications associated with contracting the coronavirus.

I’m of an age that I have not yet had many friends die. Most societies in the past, and many in other parts of the world today, face death much more often than we do. Death is sanitized here and often distant from our everyday lives.

But my friend died today.

The reality is that our nation and our world are facing a scary situation. Most who contract the coronavirus will have relatively mild symptoms and will recover very well, but not everyone will. And while we are in the midst of the uncertainty and anxiety of “stay home” orders and social distancing, I’ve found myself thinking about some of the unsettling “what ifs.” I write this to you not to make you afraid, but to process together what many of us are thinking. Death and sickness are real, and they are frightening.

In thinking about my friend, it has caused me to think again about being ready — ready for myself to die, but also making sure I’m ready in my relationships with others. Are there relationships that would be terrible to end the way they are now? Am I pursuing God the way I should? With whom do I need to share the Gospel while they still have time? Honestly thinking about death, even our own death, is an important Christian practice. We do so not with despair or terror, but in light of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Thinking about these things will do us good.

The fact is that on this side of Jesus’ return, we will continue to face death and decay and all the scariness and pain that come along with them. We who are in Christ need not fear, but in this time of uncertainty we would be wise to think soberly and prepare well. We know that because of Jesus’ victory on the cross death itself has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55), but for now we continue to experience the pain of loss on this side of history’s consummation in his return. We look with confidence to the future, but that confidence only appropriately lies in Christ. We hope in him and what he has done. Without him we would be left hopeless.

So, as we face the anxieties of this season, I invite you to prepare well:

  • Confess your sins. Admit your shortcomings and idolatry, how we have placed so many other things before God in our hearts and lives.
  • Put your faith in Jesus. Salvation is found nowhere else. Turn to Jesus and accept his gift of forgiveness. If you’d like to talk more about this, please email me at michael@hcanglican.org. I would love to talk with you and pray with you about putting your faith in Jesus. If you want to process this, or if you’re not sure you’ve done this, please reach out and talk with me.
  • Repair your relationships. Reconciliation and forgiveness are hallmarks of Jesus’ kingdom. Followers of Jesus should display these essential virtues as our Lord did.
  • Pray. Use this as a season to learn to pray more deeply. Use the prayer book (especially Morning, Mid-day, and Evening Prayer). These services are available for free online at www.dailyoffice2019.com. Set aside time every day to be alone and pray. Verbalize your personal prayers from your heart. Pray with your spouse. Pray with your children. Pray with your church family when you call each other. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • Worship: Make weekly worship an absolutely essential part of your life. Join in at 8:45am for our livestream here (https://www.hcanglican.org/live-streaming-of-services). We will let you know more about the timing of Palm Sunday and Easter livestreams next week.
  • Read the Bible: You likely have more time available than you thought you’d have. One man I know who is working from home now said that with the removal of his daily commute, he now has 3 hours more time available each day. Redeem that time by reading and studying God’s Word.

On a very practical note, I ask you to please observe the stay home orders and practice significant and consistent social distancing. Doing so will help protect you, and it will also help protect the other Pauls who will not survive if they contract the virus.

One of my favorite pieces of the Sunday liturgy comes at the beginning of the Eucharist. The priest says, “By his resurrection Jesus broke the bonds of death, trampling Hell and Satan under his feet.” I am always encouraged by those words. In the past I said those words many times at Communion while my friend Paul listened, and I know that one day he and I and all who trust in Jesus will together experience the truth of those words as we see Jesus face to face. All who put our faith in Jesus and receive his gifts of grace and mercy will see him in his glory-victorious over Sin and Death, reigning forever.

So, my invitation to you, is to honestly think about how prepared you are to face your own mortality. We face this world with confidence and trust in Jesus who defeated Death for us. We can go through this anxious and painful season with courage because Jesus has won the victory.

In Christ,

Dean Michael