Dear Redemption Hill family:
As we begin to face an evolving challenge to our city and nation, Paul’s admonition to the Church at Philippi is timely:
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:5-7)
The arrival of the Coronavirus in Richmond has brought what was an international news story to our front door. We want to encourage you that now is the time for reasonableness not panic.
Reasonableness rules out panic, but it also requires all of us to take the Coronavirus pandemic seriously. Jesus is not anxious and we don’t need to be either.
We are suspending our Sunday gatherings for this week. This includes our youth groups and Equip classes for this Sunday evening.
Currently, we intend to hold our Tuesday evening Equip class for those who are registered and would like to attend. We are also working on the necessary technology to make the class available to those who registered but would prefer to stay home.
Redemption Hill communities are a vital part of gospel encouragement and gospel service for our Redemption Hill family and we currently are leaving the decisions around these small gatherings to the individual communities.
This action may seem obvious to some and extreme to others. As elders, we are exceedingly slow to cancel gatherings where we can share the good news of Jesus with one another and those who yet to know him. We have sought the wisdom of city civic leaders and health care professionals from within the Redemption Hill family and have agreed to heed their recommendations regarding the best way to help slow the spread of the virus.
For us, this is a clear act of love, not fear. We desire to be compassionate and loving towards the “least of these” who are most vulnerable to the dangers of the Coronavirus. We desire to honor the public officials who are asking for “social distancing” right now. We also desire to support the medical professionals who are asking Americans for help in “flattening the curve” so they and our healthcare system is not overwhelmed.
Wash Your Hands and Wash the Feet of Others
Pastor Scott Sauls recently tweeted: “In a time like now, Christian neighboring looks less like fearful self-preservation and more like servanthood toward the elderly, those with HIV, autoimmune disease, or no healthcare, fatigued and under-resourced healthcare workers, etc. Wash hands, for sure. Then, wash feet.”
Christians throughout the centuries were known for their faithful serving in a time when the rest of the world was fleeing and fearing. If the arc of the virus follows that of China and Italy, then the next few weeks will be very difficult for many people in Greater Richmond. Now is also the time to not only wash our hands, but to reflect Jesus as we look for opportunities to wash the feet of others.
Here are opportunities for us to act:
- Volunteer to distribute food. When schools are not in session, children who depend on school meals are at risk. RPS has set up 20 locations for volunteers to pack and distribute packaged food to families in need. There will be two 3-hour volunteer shifts per day, 7:30-10:30 AM and 10 AM – 1 PM. Redemption Hill pastors and staff have committed to RPS to lead the volunteer efforts at Ginter Park Elementary, just blocks from where some of us gather at Holton. Please submit this form if you are willing to serve alongside us.
- Check-in now on at-risk neighbors, particularly the elderly. Let them know that you will be checking in on them during the next few weeks and ask them if they need anything — groceries or prescriptions in particular. Offer to pray with them.
- Offer childcare. There will be many neighbors who need help with childcare for jobs. Medical workers and social workers are facing an enormous burden. This is a tremendous opportunity to love them in a practical manner.
- Give to people in crisis. Many people may be able to work from home, but others will suffer when businesses close and hourly workers have no income. This is precisely why we prioritize our benevolence giving. If you would like to give to the benevolence fund to help meet this impending need you can do so using this link and selecting “Benevolence” from the drop-down menu.
This is just the start of suggestions. We expect to hear stories in the weeks to come of the endless ways you each creatively and sacrificially are loving your neighbors. In fact, as you have stories to share, please take a moment to share them with us so that we may encourage others and spur one another on to greater deeds.
In the Days to Come
For the foreseeable future, every Friday by 1:00 pm we will post the schedule for the upcoming week’s activities. This gives us enough time to properly plan in light of changing circumstances. Updates will be posted on the church website as well as on social media.
We will work to keep you updated with other opportunities to serve and love our neighbors as we continue conversations with RPS and other area churches to strategically find ways to demonstrate the grace of God to a watching city. We expect to have more information about some of those opportunities very soon.
Family, this is an opportunity for wisdom and service, being careful and also being bold. Let’s make the most of it. If you have any questions or needs to make us aware of, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoying grace together.
Pastor Robert and the Redemption Hill Leadership