Every Sunday until March 30, 2020
10:00am – 12:00pm
Dear Paramount Family,
As you all know, the whole world is currently facing a pandemic with the coronavirus. As Bishop Neil has shared with all Gulf Atlantic Diocese clergy, no one yet knows everything this will mean for our country, churches included. And as Neil says as difficult as this may be, the Lord has purposes for us and our neighbors.
The gospel is still Paramount. Christ still has ALL authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). All things have already been put in subjection under His feet (Heb. 2:8). Yet, as the author of Hebrews says in the rest of v. 8, “For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.” Though Jesus already reigns, we do not yet see all things subjected to Him.
This means we still live in a fallen world that is subjected to disease, sin and death. Eden restored and glorified has not yet occurred. Thus, believers and unbelievers alike are subjected to the fallen reality of a world that is still groaning under the curse (Rom. 8:22).
But, the good news is that “in hope we have been saved” (Rom. 8:24). Paul goes on to say, therefore, “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:28-39).
With this gospel-comfort in mind, we need to realize that the gospel drives us out of gratitude to obey God’s law- to love God and our neighbor. The gospel also leads us to live lives of wisdom and prudence. Bishop Neil has advised that if our public schools close, we should also close. So then, out of love for our neighbor and out of wise prudence, we will be suspending all public worship services for the next two to three weeks. We will reassess the situation after two weeks.
There is currently no immunity to this novel virus in any population center in the world and there is no vaccine. Thus, the only effective means for slowing and stopping the spread of this virus is social distancing.
The Reformed confessions of the Christian Faith distinguish between ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. This pandemic is most certainly an extraordinary circumstance in which we cannot follow the 4th Commandment (Heb. 10:25).
We are working to try and setup an online service for Morning Prayer for this Sunday. The information will be posted on our church website tomorrow. Until then, please note that all Paramount public worship services are suspended for the next two to three weeks. I will be sending out a more detailed letter tomorrow. To avoid a financial crisis in our church, please move your giving to our online giving platform on our church website.
Remember that the Lord has also given us wisdom literature in the Scriptures (e.g., Proverbs). So, listen to the health care providers and government leaders and follow their wise advice.
Lastly, let us all be in prayer for our church, cities, towns, nation and world. We confess the hope of the gospel each week in Holy Communion, “we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” This is our hope- the consummation of the gospel. So, let us pray as John prays as he concludes Revelation, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (22:20-21).