Please take some time to record a video greeting to share with the congregation. Let people know how you are doing and how you are thinking about and praying for them. These videos may be included with weekly videos from the church.
Please record a 1-2 minute video from your phone or laptop and then email the file to the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this day, March 30, in the year 1981, I was in Mrs. Noecker’s third-grade classroom at Robeson Elementary School. I don’t remember how the day began. Most likely, it was a typical Monday morning. I can’t even tell you what we had for lunch that day. Maybe the famous Robeson Elementary peanut butter balls were on the menu. I can tell you what happened in the early afternoon of that day; it will stay in my memory until the day I die. Over the loudspeaker in our classroom came the announcement from our principle that President Ronald Reagan was just shot in an assassination attempt.
I’ll never forget the look on Mrs. Noecker’s face when she heard the news. All the teachers in the school could remember back to the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and this was a reminder of that event. The pain, the fear, the feelings of loss rushed back to each teacher. This was the first national crisis I ever experienced, and it seemed like a big one.
During the national crisis, we find ourselves in right now; the feelings are similar yet very different. We feel powerless right now. Still, we know that this virus will not last forever. When Reagan was shot, and chaos took over—remember how the Secretary of State Al Haig thought he was next in line for the office of president? Our thoughts rushed toward the Soviet Union. What steps would they take toward leveraging the situation for their advantage?
In the end, Reagan survived a near-fatal gunshot. The bullet missed his heart by millimeters. In his White House diary, after he finally came home from the hospital, Reagan penned these words, “Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve him in every way I can.”
How I hope that is our determination as God carries us through this pandemic. Like Reagan, I hope that we can see God touching our lives, preparing us for the greater work He has planned for us. Let’s not go back to life as usual after all these struggles subside. Instead, even right now, let’s re-purpose our lives for God’s full use. To Him, be the glory!
While the church meets in homes instead of one central location this week, I pray that this message from Hebrews 12 will encourage you.
Take some time on Sunday morning to have a big breakfast with your family. Let the kids start their activities in another room, and then with the other adults in your home, sit down and listen to this message. How many times do you get this opportunity just to slow down and focus on the Word? Make today that day!
After the message, call one or two people from the church just to say “Hi.” Maybe we can’t have greeting time in church, but we can still greet each other after the message!
While things are pretty quiet around the church, there are signs of life. I hope each of you sees signs of life in your relationship with Jesus during this time of uncertainty. As we study Hebrews, we are reminded of Hebrews 13:5b, “…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can be confident during this time that God is right here with us, understanding our concerns and relieving our fears.
I look forward to the day that we can see each other face-to-face, and the signs of life that we see will be each other.
I’m praying that everyone is healthy and calm as the COVID-19 virus moves closer to home. Please continue praying for each other and our communities as we face this crisis together.
I was blessed this morning by an offer a member made to the people at Blainsport. An offer is standing for grocery store runs, especially for those most vulnerable to the virus. If anyone in the congregation does not feel comfortable going out to the grocery store or pharmacy during this time, others want to help. Let’s call on each other during our time of need. Please call me at the church or on my cell phone if you need assistance in this way. Also, if you are willing to make runs for others in the congregation, let me know that too.
How far should we go to help others during these uncertain times? The response of reformer Martin Luther challenged me in my thinking. In 1527, the bubonic plague struck Wittenberg, Germany, and virtually all of Luther’s students fled for their lives. Known as the “Black Death,” the plague emerged from China in the mid-1300s. It appeared again in the 15th century as well. When this disease was in epidemic levels, the mortality rate ranged from 30 percent to 90 percent.
Luther called Christians to consider what Jesus meant when he said, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35–36, NLT). Luther served his congregation and the community well during the plague. He opened his home to those in need and trusted God to provide for him as he served.
At the same time, Luther warned Christians not to test God by acting over-confidently, rushing into dangerous settings carelessly. We should take precautions without giving into fear. As Christians, it is all right to be concerned, particularly if our loved ones or we are in an at-risk category. But God wants us to lean into him as we reach out to others—especially others in need.
While we can reach out to others, we must also take wise steps in order not to test God needlessly. Here is a list of activities that we think are wise to cancel at this time. We will reschedule events AFTER the authorities lift the COVID-19 restrictions. The list might grow as time goes on, but for now, here is what we have.
We want to weather this storm together as a family, so please don’t hesitate to call me. And if you have health concerns during this time, please let me know so we can be praying for you. Life will look different for us when all this passes—and hopefully, we become more like Christ in our character, actions, and love.
Yesterday Governor Tom Wolf announced further restrictions and recommendations for the mitigation of the COVID-19 virus. Many customer service-based businesses needed to close to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. He advises all groups numbering over ten people to suspend their gatherings at this time temporarily.
After praying about this, we have decided to honor those in authority by supporting their efforts to slow the spread of this virus. As a result, Blainsport Mennonite Church has canceled all worship gatherings and weekly activities through March 31. We are concerned about not only our health but the health and safety of our communities. This decision is not based on fear, but rather a desire to act wisely amid this pandemic.
While we may not be gathering over the next two Sundays, we want to make some resources available to you. A Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Blainsport-Mennonite-Church-109316590698518/) is now open for you to follow updates and find support for your edification during this time. It is not the same as gathering together, but it will help tide us over until we can get together again. Don’t forget our webpage (www.blainsport.org) during this time as well.
While we did not ask for this crisis, let’s live out our faith in Christ during these days. Take the opportunity to check in with your neighbors, lend a hand to those around you, and above all, show the love of Jesus to everyone you see.
We’ll continue to keep you informed in the days ahead but for now, remain faithful in prayer, and lean into Jesus. He is worthy of our full confidence.
I know there is much discussion about COVID-19 (coronavirus). News reports are saturated with the topic and rightly so. COVID-19 is very contagious and extremely dangerous. Governor Tom Wolf provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, which includes a “strong encouragement of the suspension of large gatherings, events, and conferences of 250 individuals or more.” Activities like the ACC Invitational Tournament have been canceled this weekend due to concerns for the larger than 250 group that would have gathered at Lancaster Bible College.
Like many other churches, Blainsport’s weekly attendance falls under the governor’s threshold. This Sunday (March 15), we plan to have our regularly scheduled Sunday school classes and worship gathering. Please do not feel obligated to attend on Sunday morning if you feel as though you are especially vulnerable or if you do not feel well. For those of us gathering on Sunday morning, we will try to limit some of our physical contact, such as handshaking. If you choose not to attend this week, please know that you can listen to the recording of our worship gathering on our website: https://www.blainsport.org/messages.html.
Also, for your information, I attached a document from Everence, which offers some safety precautions for individuals and suggestions for churches if our area becomes more affected by COVID-19.
Finally, regardless of the dangers that surround us in this world, we trust our God in all circumstances. We, of course, want to act wisely and make informed decisions, but we never want to react out of fear. God is totally in control, and we rest in His peace during this scary time.
If you are healthy and able to join us on Sunday, I look forward to seeing you!
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Eric grew up in the little town of Gibraltar, PA with his grandparents. He met his wife Cheryl while working at Good’s Greenhouse in Bowmansville, PA. He has three adult children and values watching them grow into the people God wants them to be.