CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Friday, March 13, 2020

Hey Coastal,

In Matthew Chapter 22, one of the Jewish religious leaders approaches Jesus with a difficult question:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Jesus makes it really clear. At the core of what it means to follow Him, we must 1) love God with every aspect of our being and 2) love our neighbors as ourselves. This is Christianity 101. So what does this look like in a world that has been turned upside down by a pandemic? How can I love well during this season of uncertainty? What does this mean for our church? Let me offer a few suggestions:

1) We should listen to the experts and enter into a season where we practice SOCIAL DISTANCING. 
If you’re not familiar, social distancing is an attempt to stop the spread of an infectious disease by restricting large public gatherings. Events like the rodeo, sporting events, schools, and even worship services can become a catalyst for the coronavirus to spread rapidly. Social distancing won’t eliminate the coronavirus, but it significantly impacts the number and growth rate of potential cases by “flattening the curve.” As part of this community-wide effort, Coastal believes the most loving thing we can do for Galveston is to stay home this Sunday. We are a large church and although smaller churches might be able to meet without creating significant risk, we want to do our part in slowing the disease. After meeting with the Advisory Team and Leadership Team, we have decided that we will NOT GATHER for worship this Sunday (3/15) and that all church programming (Community Groups, Coastal Youth, etc.) will be postponed this week (3/16 – 3/20). These measures may seem extreme, but the situation over the past few days has changed rapidly and we need time to determine what Coastal’s ministry should look like as we move forward.  

2) This Sunday is an opportunity to worship DIFFERENTLY. 
My family is never home together on Sunday morning. We’re always at church, even when we’re on vacation. But this Sunday we will sit together in front of the TV to watch a sermon on RIGHTNOW MEDIA. It’s basically like Christian Netflix.  It has great content for the whole family and it’s free to everyone who calls Coastal their church home. You can watch it on your phone, computer, or smart TV. There’s even an app available for download on ROKU and Apple TV. *If you don’t have an account, contact aland@discovercoastal.org. We’ll get you hooked up. We also have several years of Coastal sermons available for you to listen to on our website, app, and iTunes podcast.  And as always, we encourage you to spend time reading the Bible, praying, and praising God through worship music.  You might even decide to go on a prayer walk along the seawall or in your neighborhood.

3) Look for creative ways to SERVE over the next few weeks. 
Do you know anyone who is sick or who would be particularly susceptible to the virus? Offer to go grocery shopping on their behalf. Did you lose your mind and buy a lifetime supply of toilet paper? Spare a square with a neighbor who is completely out. You might also know working parents who are scrambling to figure out what to do with their kids now that school is cancelled. Consider offering to help with childcare while they figure out a game plan moving forward.

4) Finally, replace your fear and anxiety with TRUST. 
There are lots of reasons to be concerned. We can’t completely predict how coronavirus and changes in the stock market will impact our future. But we can be confident in the ONE who holds the future in His Hand. The Sovereign King of the Universe is not surprised by all of this. He is still on His Throne and He is still a faithful, loving God. In fact, the Bible teaches that God can use hardships for good. My prayer is that we will run to our Heavenly Father with our concerns and trust that He will orchestrate all things together for our good and His glory. We know He loves us. He created us and died on the cross that we might have eternal, abundant life. Let’s cast our cares on Him and when we do, we’ll experience a peace that passes all understanding. We’ll be a light to the nations and a source of hope for a world in turmoil.

Over the next week our Advisory Team and Leadership Team will discuss new, creative ways to do ministry during this unprecedented season.  Future updates will be posted on Coastal’s Facebook page and our website at www.discovercoastal.org/coronavirus. Also, feel free to contact the church (info@discovercoastal.org) if you have any questions, concerns, or personal needs that we can help with.

Honored to be your pastor,
Aaron Sanders