Holy Week 2020

Dear Church Family,

I was 14 when 9/11 happened. I had just started my freshman year of high school and actually wasn’t even in school that day. Instead, I was at a hotel.

At the time, my dad was in business, and the company he worked for was holding a conference at the historic Don Caesar Hotel in St. Petersburg. Since his company was already paying for the hotel room, my dad thought it’d be fun if our family came along to enjoy the experience. So that’s what we did. All 5 of us – my mom, my dad, my younger brother, my older sister, and me – piled in my dad’s 1990 Toyota Corolla and drove to St. Petersburg. We stayed at the hotel Monday night, and then Tuesday morning was the conference. Only the conference never happened. Early that morning just before 9:00AM, my brother and I left the room to “get ice” (which was really just an excuse to explore the hotel unattended), and when we came back, our parents’ eyes were glued to the TV as they watched in horror our nation come under attack.

I was talking to somebody in our church recently who mentioned to me that to her the coronavirus pandemic feels a bit like 9/11. In some ways, I can relate to that feeling. Now please don’t mishear me. Obviously, these are two extremely different events. One was a planned attack, an act of pure evil carried out by deluded terrorists bent on the destruction of America, and the other is a global health pandemic for whom no one is responsible. Still, some of the effects of these two events feel similar. There’s a heightened sense of anxiety. There’s fear of the unknown. There’s a growing death toll. And all of us have this shared sense that once all this is over, things are never going to be the same moving forward. Just like 9/11 changed travel and other parts about our country, the coronavirus pandemic is going to change things and leave a lasting impression with us.

 

For now, we walk through this valley. But be assured we don’t walk it alone. First, we have each other – our sisters and brothers in the faith – and we lean on each other for emotional support, encouragement, and reassurance. But we also have our God, who calls us his children (1 John 3:1a), and who, in Jesus Christ, promises that he’ll always be with us (Matthew 28:20b). Take comfort knowing that the God of love goes before you, and that no matter how dark and scary and bleak things get, God is there, and his care and provision remain.   

I want to remind you that we’re still not holding in-person worship, and with the Governor’s recently issued stay at-home order for the entire state, that’s going to be the case now through at least until the end of April. We’ll continue to update you as information becomes available. In the meantime, join us as we host all our regular services online, either on our website (www.communityoffaith.org/livestream-services/) or on our Facebook page (wwww.facebook.com/cofumc/). 

 

In addition, keep in mind that this coming week is Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter, when we commemorate Jesus’ final days on earth). Be sure to “attend” as many of our Holy Week services as possible, which are as follows:
  • Palm Sunday weekend – Saturday, April 4 @6:30PM, and Sunday, April 5 @8:30AM and 10:30AM
  • Maundy Thursday – Thursday, April 9 @6:30PM
  • Good Friday – Friday, April 10 @6:30PM
  • Easter Sunrise – Sunday, April 12 @6:30AM
  • Easter Weekend – Saturday, April 11 @6:30PM, and Sunday, April 12 @8:30AM and 10:30AM. 

 

As one of my clergy colleagues put it, EASTER HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED. The coronavirus will not stop our celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God and God’s victory over sin, death, and evil.

Finally, I want to end this note by thanking you for your continued financial support of Community of Faith during these difficult days. Because of your faith-filled generosity, Community of Faith continues to offer life-giving ministry to God’s children, not just in the Four Corners, but because of our online ministry, to the larger world. If you’re not already aware of giving options, you can give online (www.communityoffaith/giving/), or you can mail in your offering to our address (9120 Teacher Lane Davenport, FL 33896). Thank you again.

 

Know that I continue to hold each of you in my prayers, and I’ll “see” you this weekend for one of our Palm Sunday services.

Blessings,
Chris