Chapel Hill Family,
“…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me… Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.'”
– 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Paul writes about a thorn in the flesh coming at a time he was at the top of his game. He saw it as something that would keep him humble, to remind him he was finite and a disciple of Jesus Christ and that the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus were the good news, not what Paul had accomplished. We do not know the nature of this metaphorical thorn Paul speaks of, but it was something that tormented him and led him to beg for deliverance. It is at this point Paul learned that grace was all he needed to continue on despite the thorn.
Globally, we confront a collective thorn in our human flesh as COVID-19 has spread and threatens to take the next step in spreading exponentially. We may know or will know friends and family who are ill. Our everyday life has been disrupted by recommendations to stay at home and avoid undue contact with others, especially in large gatherings. Many have panicked and stockpiled large quantities of items for fear they may run short, making them, ironically, run short. Judging by the amount of toilet paper people are buying it seems the coronavirus scares the “you know what” out of them.
Others are feeling the thorn in other ways. The economic disruption has cut their hours or cost their jobs. Or their job requires them to put in insane hours just to help provide essentials, from the grocery workers who are quite possibly facing more exposure than anyone in town right now to the medical professionals whose lives and well-being are on the line as they treat rapidly growing case numbers with rapidly decreasing supplies.
Others of us are dealing with the loss of community we find in our social gatherings and the spiritual community and renewal we find in church. The thorn we feel varies, but it is very real. Yet, at this time, we can remember God’s grace that will give us strength in our weakness throughout our journey to the end of the pandemic.
I cannot tell you right now how long the church and community will be shut down, because no one really knows. But I can tell you God is with us and needs us to be there for one another and for others in creative and strategic ways as we deal with this thorn in the flesh from Satan that is attacking all of us. How this looks is still coming into view, but I can share a few notes with you:
1) As of the close of business tomorrow, the office will be closed until the county lifts the Shelter-in-Place Order. We are working on a plan to forward phone calls to the office to another number but you can always reach me at (972) 467-7756.
2) Online worship will continue as the county’s order allows for groups of less than 10 to gather for the purpose of streaming worship. However, you might also see my living room at times as we navigate these waters.
3) Staff will be working to assist in maintaining spiritual connections by telephone as well as videoconferencing. Youth will be gathering by video conference and we are working on ways for the children and interested adults to do so as well. You may even see details soon for a prayer gathering via video conference.
4) All church events are hereby postponed until we are able to return to our normal routine.
5) If we have to worship online for Easter, then we will do so. However, when we are able to return to our normal worship routine, we will remember every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection and will celebrate Easter together, in person, at that time as well.
6) Please remember that, while we are not meeting, there are still bills that will need to be paid and a pastor and staff to be compensated so they can provide for their families in this difficult time, so we ask that you remain committed to your faith pledges as much as your able. We also have some other potential significant disruptions to our revenue that may occur so please consider giving more than your pledge if you are able during this trying economic time. For the time being, please mail your tithes and offerings to Jan Wooldridge at 12930 Mitchwin Road, Farmers Branch, TX 75234, so we can continue to meet our financial commitments. We may have an online option available soon to provide another to give as well. If, however, checks have been sent or will be sent to the church they will be received.
7) We are not sure if the newsletter will continue during this interim time following this edition. However, we will continue to send updates via email and Facebook. As you know, our mass emails sometimes go to your “Junk” or “Spam” folders so please check those folders regularly. But please do not open any email that you have any doubts concerning its origins. Additionally, this week we are limiting our printed, mailed newsletters to those who do not also receive the email version. This means that if you normally get both, this week you’ll just have the email version.
8) We know many of you watched worship this past Sunday on Facebook. However, we are also aware that the feed on our YouTube channel had some significant technical difficulties. We will be working to upload a full version of this worship service for those who do not have a Facebook account.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen