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Loving our neighbors

Brothers and Sisters,

The current coronavirus has changed our lives, hasn’t it?! The elders of Grace have been praying, talking and closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation. We long to be back to public worship on the Lord’s Day, just as you do. We have had to weigh several clear biblical principles as we deliberate and seek the Lord on this matter.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
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.

Romans 13:1 (ESV)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to gather for public worship of our God and King. But we are also commanded by our God to obey civil government, which he has established for our good. So what do we do when these two commands clash? It is essential that we seek to get underneath them, figuring out the reasons for them. Accordingly it is the conviction of our Session that the governing authorities are not forbidding public worship out of any evil, demonic notion that worship is bad for society, or that they hate Jesus and His word. Rather they are asking people of faith to temporarily suspend worship because the God who we worship demands that we have a love for our neighbor.

1 John 4:20 (ESV)
20  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

I do not think it is a stretch to state that the principle of 1 John 4 applies not only to our brothers (and sisters) in Christ but also to our neighbors.

So on Thursday evening as the elders gathered through Zoom to think about when it would be appropriate to regather for Lord’s Day worship in light of Governor Hogan’s announcement several days ago, we found that the Baltimore County Executive has taken a more cautious stance for our county. The Session agrees that we have no problem abiding by what has been mandated by him. The complete mandate is spelled out here: Baltimore County Web Site.

So in light of this, we will continue together via Zoom technology until the restrictions are lifted. We understand that some of you are very eager to return while others are much more cautious. This is a time where we must trust the Lord and forbear with one another as we are encouraged to do in the scriptures. Let us continue to love one another and our neighbors by utilizing the principles of physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and wearing face masks in public spaces.
This coming Sunday we will move into John 17 with the message by Pastor Eric.

Lord willing, we will “see” you on Sunday.

Pastor Stan