Dear brothers and sisters,
We find ourselves in unprecedented times that, to some degree, have caught us by surprise. Who would have thought that we would not be able to gather together as a congregation for a season? And yet, we can be certain that this did not catch our great God by surprise. What a joy it is to know that the God who created the universe and upholds us with his righteous right hand is still on his throne. His rule and reign assure us that he has a purpose in all things, even pandemics.
In light of the most recent recommendations to avoid public gatherings of 10 or more people by the Trump Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and The Wolf Administration, the elders of HCC have, with great sadness, decided that it would be wise for us to refrain from all public services for the rest of March (unless recommendations change and we can meet again earlier). As elders we are regretful that, as a church body, we are not able to meet together for this season in our lives. And yet, we trust that God will use this for good. Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
In times of emergency such as this, we understand that it is not a sin not to meet for a season. We are not disobeying God’s word any more than when we stay home from our church gatherings when we are sick or are away on vacation. We understand that God is sovereign, and this time of separation can be used by God in immense ways. So, brothers and sisters, let’s not waste this moment to reflect on the value of God’s covenant community. Let this time
develop in you a holy thirst for the public gathering of God’s people. Let this time sharpen your appreciation for what we have and delight in it. And, pray! Pray that God would restore us to our gatherings soon.
In light of the fact that we will not be meeting for the rest of March, we want to inform you about and encourage you with the following:
- I will be sending out regular emails with resources for your spiritual edification and encouragement. If you have not already been receiving the church emails, please notify me ASAP and I will be sure to get your email on the list.
- We will not be livestreaming sermons. The church is more than a preaching point and so we believe that during this time of separation, God will use this to instill in us a greater longing to gather together with God’s people. With that said however, feel free to download sermons online and listen to them if you would like. There are past sermons on our website, but we can also recommend sermons from other preachers, like John Piper, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Kevin DeYoung, Paul Washer, Paul David Tripp, Alister Begg, and others. Just ask an elder and we can lead you in the right direction.
- Although we will not be livestreaming sermons, we are going to try to have prayer meetings through zoom. They will be limited to half an hour because we are trying the free version. The first one we will try will be Wednesday, March 18 at 6:30pm. Here are the instructions
a. Click this link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/704168332
b. Follow the instructions for how to create or log in to a zoom account
c. Try it out before 6:30pm and text me if you are having difficulties logging in.
If this works well, I will send out a weekly link so you can log into the prayer meetings. If it doesn’t work well, we will try something else. The reason I like zoom is because we can all share video as well as sound. Anyone with an internet connection can join us, wherever you are. You will not need to share your video or audio if you choose not to; you can just listen and pray along with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Don’t neglect to spend time in God’s word and in prayer. This may be a good time to begin a Bible reading plan or catch up on the one you you fell behind in. If you have a smartphone a great app for prayer is Prayermate. Considering checking it out and organizing your prayers with it.
- The elders will be contacting all members on at least a weekly basis to check in, pray with you, encourage you, etc. Please be open about any needs you may have. We want to shepherd you well during this time. Please make sure your contact information us up to date in instantchurchdirectory.com. If you need help accessing the online church
directory call me and I will help you through the process.
- We want to encourage each of you to be contacting each other and praying for each other. This may be a wonderful time to get to know your fellow members better. Use technology: facetime, skype, phone, text, etc. Considering calling a member you don’t know very well. In addition, please make sure to keep in contact with our older saints who are at greater risk and may not be able to go out of their homes. Check to see if
they need groceries, supplies, etc. If you need a phone number call or text me and I’ll get it to you.
- Check up on your neighbors. As followers of Christ we want to love others as Christ has loved us. What a great opportunity to express the love of Christ. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel.
- If you have lost income during this time and need any financial assistance, please contact one of the elders.
- I’m not sure how to phrase this one except to just say it: don’t forget to keep supporting HCC financially. Despite the fact that we won’t have services for a few weeks, we still have financial obligations, including our mortgage, missionaries, utilities, financial assistance to those in need, etc. If you are still in a position to give financially, you can mail any contributions to the church, Attn: Rob Varano, Treasurer. The church address is 551 West Fourth Street, Mount Carmel, PA 17851
- Finally, enjoy the break. Some of you serve so faithfully at HCC and at times get a bit burned out. Thank you for serving so faithfully. Enjoy the break. For some of you, your schedules are so jammed packed that it’s hard to get time with your family. Enjoy the break. Let’s see this as an opportunity to grow in our love for one another.
Now with all of that said, let me just remind us of where our true confidence lies. Certainly, we want to be people who take appropriate precautions so that we are living in obedience to our authorities and loving our neighbor as ourselves. But our ultimate confidence doesn’t rest upon precautions, our government, or anything like that. Listen to the prophet Jeremiah.
23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”Jeremiah 9:23–24
Our hope is not in the CDC, our President, our Governor, or our wisdom, wealth or might. Those are all good things that God has given us, but our hope rests in God alone. Use this unusual time in our history to understand and know God more deeply. To grow in your love for him and to grow in your love for one another.
I will miss seeing all of you weekly, but I’m looking forward to the time to have more individual conversations through phone, text, and email. I love you and will be praying for your growth in Christ and your confidence in God during this time. May God’s Spirit work to mature us and give us confidence for the days ahead.
With much love on behalf of the elders,