Dear Brother in Office,
Isn’t this a great time to be in ministry for the Lord Christ? As the entire world reels under the onslaught of this new Coronavirus and our country locks down to slow its spread, life in your parish looks entirely different. Secondary things have fallen away almost overnight and all that’s left is the heart and center of our life together: Christ Jesus and His saving Word.
As Bev, Dave, and I make contacts with DOX grads, over and over again we’ve been thrilled to see how you’re adjusting to incredibly challenging conditions. It seems like many of you are learning a lot more about digital technology. But even more significantly, all of you are serving your people as you are able with the one thing needful: the living and abiding Word of the Lord Jesus.
The key phrase in that sentence is “as you are able.” The necessary restrictions placed on us by those given authority by God for public safety have severely restricted public worship. Likewise, stay at home orders and the like have stymied things you would like to do - or would have done under other circumstances - in response to a crisis like this.
EQUIPPED TO SERVE
I remind you, brothers, that the Lord of the church doesn’t expect any more of the stewards of His mysteries than simple faithfulness to what He’s given them. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, and you wield it now to defend yourself and your people against a formidable enemy.
Thank God, other brave vocations are enlisted to battle the COVID-19 virus and its devastation; we pray His strength, protection, and wisdom for our courageous medical personnel on the front lines. But physicians of souls like you have been called to battle on a different front. I needn’t remind you that the devil is the sworn enemy of God and His church; his assaults are relentless, cunning, and sinister. From what I’ve learned in my contacts so far, his strategy is to attack pastors in their conscience with the nagging question: “Am I doing enough?” “Is there something else – some magic formula – that I could implement to serve my people better in this crisis?”
That line of thinking, dear brother, leads you in exactly the wrong direction. It focuses your attention inward – to your own capabilities and resources. As a servant of Christ and steward of God’s mysteries, you’ve got nothing whatsoever inside you that can heal wounded souls, soothe anxious hearts, bring hope to the sick, or comfort those who mourn.
SHEEPDOGGING IN CRISIS
So instead, be a sheepdog in this horrific situation: fix one eye on Jesus and one eye on His sheep; then do His bidding as you are able. With their rapt attention fixed elsewhere, sheepdogs don’t take time to fret about how they’re doing; all they know is that the Great Shepherd loves them so much that He’s enlisted them in His service. And then remember the other part of that glorious DOXOLOGY metaphor: whenever they’re at rest, a sheepdog and his Shepherd are found together.
So be careful out there these days. Wash your hands, keep your distance, and guard your health. But for God’s sake, guard your soul too: Get plenty of rest in Christ by meditation and prayer.
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God. (2 Cor 3:5)
Get in touch with any of us if we can lend a listening ear or an encouraging word.
Yours in Christ,
Hal Senkbeil firstname.lastname@example.org 262.716.8575
Dave Fleming email@example.com 616.516.2945
Bev Yahnke firstname.lastname@example.org 414.305.0131