NCC Coronavirus Update From Our Pastor

Blessings Northside Family and Friends! As I sit here in my office, I can't help but consider the gravity of the unprecedented time in which we find ourselves living. None of us could have ever predicted that something would come along and bring an abrupt halt to all that people consider "normal" life, not just in America, but all over the world. In every sector of society people are either being forced or strongly encouraged to significantly alter their behaviors, habits and activities to hopefully mitigate the potential devastating effects and duration of this viral outbreak. We are praying together with you and many others that God will be gracious and merciful toward us, and that He will give our leaders, our communities and families, and each of us individually wisdom and strength as we face the uncertainties that are mounting as this scenario unfolds.
President Trump spoke last night, and has called our nation to extend the time period for "The President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America" until April 30th. These guidelines include, among other recommendations, the practice of "social distancing" and avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people. The projected peak of infections and deaths is April 14th based on several current scientific models, with deaths in the USA projected as high as 100,000 - 200,000 people by that date. Again, we pray for God's mercy and that this will not be the case. However, it is clear that the President and his advisers are extremely concerned for the health and welfare of our nation and believe that the extension of these recommendations is in the best interest of its citizens.
I met with our NCC Elders on Sunday after our worship service for us to pray and talk together about this present situation and our response to it in regard to our daily and weekly ministry operations. The Elders are in unanimous agreement that it is both biblical and wise for us to voluntarily comply as a church ministry with the recommendations of our state and federal authorities. We have a responsibility in "loving our neighbors" to do all we can to protect lives and work together with our community to bring an end to this pandemic as soon as possible with as few casualties as possible. After hearing President Trump's announcement last night, we have prayerfully agreed together that we will continue to not have public worship services in our facilities at least through April 30th...and yes, that includes our Resurrection Sunday Worship Service.
It is not lost on any of us the significance of this decision by us and more than likely the majority of churches in the United States and the world. Nothing like this has ever happened on this scale in our lifetimes, and perhaps in all of church history. Can you imagine someone telling you last year that in the year 2020 the majority of churches in America would not have congregations meeting together for worship on "Easter" Sunday, let alone "a month" or more of Sundays?! We would have laughed that prophet off of the stage. Or if we believed it, we would think surely it was the "last hour" of the "last days." Regardless, here we are. And it is likely that all of us will struggle with these things as we seek to live faithfully as followers of Jesus Christ. However, it is not the observance of days or festivals that should be the defining elements of our Christian faith. It is the EVERY DAY reality of the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ lived out faithfully by all who are His followers that is the greatest testimony of the Risen One who has redeemed His people. Keep that in your heart and daily life as we enter this season of remembering His death, burial and RESURRECTION. Together, let's each see how many ways we can effectively communicate the truth of Jesus Christ to our community in the midst of this international crisis! And let us confess with the Psalmist that even though we are walking into the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for He, The Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and the Omega, and the RESURRECTION and the LIFE, is with us!
As I close this message, I am filled with faith and joy knowing with certainty that the God and Father of our our Lord Jesus Christ is guarding and keeping us all, and that through this our faith is being refined as pure gold. We are being stripped of our idols - sports, entertainment, money, and yes, even religion. I pray that what remains is the true church that will arise and shine forth the glory of God in such a time as this!