Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Recently I conversed and prayed with a man with cancer. He considers each day a blessing knowing that his body is failing. He has peace because he knows he will soon be seeing the Lord. A few months ago he had plans but they did not include infusions, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments. His plans changed.
In recent days each one of us have had our plans changed. On April 27 Mary and I had planned to leave for southern Utah for a vacation. Those plans were scrapped. Now we have planned to go in September, but only God knows whether those plans will be fulfilled or not.
Proverbs speaks about God's certain control as compared to our very uncertain plans:
The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand. Proverbs 19:21
The book of James shares a lot of similarities with Proverbs and instructs us to make our plans knowing that God may have different plans for us and our lives, including how long we may live.
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
If you have not already done so, this is a good text to commit to memory. Most importantly we are to keep in mind in all our plans that our life is a vapor - momentary and then vanishing – poof! Gone! It is kind of a strange picture if you stop and think about it. Imagine a wisp of steam rising from your hot beverage or bowl of oatmeal laying out the plans that is has for the next twelve months. As vapors it is rather foolish of us to make firm plans for the distant future. All our plans should be cradled in the truth that we will only be able to execute our plans if the Lord allows us to live and if He wills it so.
With this understanding, we are making careful and detailed plans to resume meeting on Sundays at Canaan Church. We have measured the building and made a floor plan identifying that we can have up to 24 people while maintaining the required 6 foot distance (as measured between chairs). We will be writing a policy describing how we are meeting the requirements of the Oregon Health Authority, le2288V, COVID-19 Guidance for Faith Communities and Faith-based Organizations. We will be assigning someone to be present at each meeting to make sure that these practices are followed. We will be making reservation for individuals for attending church each week in order to make sure that everyone who wants to come to church can come but also that we do not exceed the allowed number of people. We will communicate with government officials informing them of our plan so they know we are meeting in compliance with the requirements.
All of these things are above and beyond all the normal plans/preparations we have always made for church services. Please be praying that God will give us wisdom and discernment as we make and execute plans in humility and submission to His will.
THE NEXT STEP
In order to proceed we need to identify how many people will be attending church. Typically in the past the doors were open and people attended when people attended. Because of the space limitation, for a while at least, we need to know who is coming for certain. If more people want to come than space allows, then we will have two services (or three). However, if less than 20 will be attending then one service will suffice.
In order to make these plans effectively you need to communicate what your plans and intents are regarding attending church services.
_____ I will be attending every Sunday and I want a seat reserved for me every week.
_____ I will be attending some Sundays (# times per month?) and will let people know weekly.
_____ I do not plan to attend until more restrictions are lifted.
_____ If there are two services I would like to attend the 9:30-10:30 or the 11:00-12:00.
For us to make effective plans we will need you to answer these questions. If you can reply by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) that will be fine. In the next day or so I will be calling each person in the church to discuss the above in particular and whatever else may be on your mind. After this information is gathered we will announce the plans for services and also distribute the policy for meeting at this time.
If we live and the Lord wills we are looking forward to seeing each other in the near future.
Serving with joy,