In response to Coronavirus and the growing fear in our city.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Just two weeks ago, the sight of supermarkets bereft of toilet paper would have been an unlikely, perhaps even unimaginable, result of the Coronavirus outbreak. How quickly things can change. And indeed, how sharply do we experience the fickleness of the human heart.
We see it in others as our social media feeds and newspapers display "live" images of all sorts of behaviour - from confusion to anger; from relative calm to fear and confusion. And we see it in ourselves, in our emotions and responses as we do our best to remain at peace yet feel the same pull to react to not just our situation, but also the reaction of others. As Christians and as a Church, we are not immune to our fallen humanity even when we know better.
As a Church we remain committed to following the recommendations and guidelines of the relevant government authorities. This includes measures pertaining to group meetings which would directly affect our general operations, Sunday Services, fellowship groups and bible studies. We choose this as good citizens of our country, out of love for one another, and in general wisdom regarding the preservation of each other's health and lives. In this event, there will naturally come some unideal effects on our community life and faith, however rest assured that we will continue to function and minister to one another in other ways while we wait.
It is worth in the meantime reflecting on our circumstance.
The earth we live in, the earth we live on, is one that suffers and groans. Along with us, the whole creation suffers and groans, experiences brokenness and fallenness, pain and frustration, as it lives under the effect and power of sin and death. Sickness and illness, calamity and disaster - Coronavirus - reflect the reality that this world does not yet live perfectly under the rule of God.
The earth, like us, is waiting for something better. And nothing can truly change it until Christ returns.
And therein lies also the opportunity. Whatever the circumstances, when we are faced with our mortality, with our fragility and powerlessness in this world, we ought to be confronted with our relationship with God. God is the one who holds life in his hands. He is the one in control. He is the one who gives meaning and purpose to all that we see, be it good or bad in our eyes. It is to him we should look for answers.
There is a hope and a promise that we and the creation will be redeemed, restored and made whole. There is a hope for Coronavirus, and much more, that there will never again be anything like it. That hope is the new creation: found and established in the Lord Jesus Christ, taken hold of and possessed in repentance and faith.
As Christians we can be at peace with the world we live in. Not because we are immune to getting sick but because we have a higher and greater hope. The earth is groaning for that day, and when we sit and mourn and lament the crazy, chaotic, sad state of our world, so are we.
And when we find ourselves fearing and worrying, like much of our world, know that we rest on better promises. We fear because we are not in control. We worry because we know that our best efforts are not enough to ensure our safety or resolve our problems. Our anxiety, whether big or small, stems from our powerlessness to change our circumstance.
But God is in control. He is powerful. He is sovereign. We can be at peace because we trust in his will. And we rest on better promises - that no matter what happens in our present earthly lives, Christ has died and risen from the dead. We will be raised, for the new creation, where there is no more death, or mourning or crying or pain. The fearful and anxious way of this world will have passed away. We can, and we will, be at peace.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:12
While we wait, instead of worrying and being anxious, seek to love one another. Love your brother and sister, and love your neighbour. No doubt you have seen images and video of people purchasing and stockpiling resources to the detriment of others. Do your best to be gracious, that although this it is an unhelpful action, empathise with them in their fear. And do so even with those who wrongly and unfairly express their prejudices. There may come a time and an opportunity for you to share what you have, whether it be a roll of toilet paper or some food. Do so whole heartedly, even when it makes you think about what you yourself have and need. And be quick to encourage, even offer to pray, for others as they express their worries. We all need reminders to look up in hope when we feel that things are grim.
And in all these things remember that you are part of a community, a Church, of brothers and sisters in Christ that loves and shares. That your own needs will be covered by God and his people if it so happens that you are without.
And as you do these things, know this - that you are a profound witness to this world. Because we live and experience the same hurts and pains, the same diseases, the same disasters - the same as everyone else no matter what they believe. But we endure them and exist them with a peace and a hope that comes not from this world, but from heaven. Such is our confidence in God. Such is our hope in Jesus. Such is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Finally then would you also be praying for our world, that in God's kindness this outbreak would come to an end. Pray particularly for those who are directly affected, those suffering infection and their loved ones. Pray and give thanks also for those on the 'front lines', for government officials and researchers, but perhaps most of all for health workers and hospital staff. We have many ourselves at our Church. May they know the strength and protection of God, and may they continue to persevere with their work in love. Indeed so may we all.
Rev. Simon Chiu