Coronavirus: A Pastoral Letter
By: Dr. Harry L. Reeder III
March 23, 2020 12:52 PM
Dear Church Family,
Grace and Peace. I hope that you have already read the communication from the Briarwood Leadership concerning our interim and modified Worship and Ministry schedule. This schedule provides an opportunity for us to enjoy the Worship of God and the means of grace with wisdom and prudence as we engage in the various elements of Worship. As we respond appropriately to this World Health Organization declared pandemic (which means the disease is multinational in its scope) we have been presented with an opportunity to manifest our Biblical theology in how we trust the Lord, love our neighbor, and seize the moment to further the Great Commission. Allow me to share a few thoughts as to how we can embrace ministry opportunities that will surface in the coming days from a Pastoral perspective.
First, I want to thank our Elders, Deacons and Pastoral Staff for their prayer-saturated leadership wisdom as together we attempt to address the Coronavirus pandemic with not only wisdom but also a clear Gospel witness which is and will be manifested in how we minister to our families, to one another and to our community. Do take the time to fully digest the interim Worship/Ministry plan that has been sent to our church family and friends. This plan allows us to properly respond to the recommendations of our County and State Health Department, honor the Lord’s Day, minister to God’s gathered people and visitors with the means of grace- God’s Word, prayer and praise. This plan also enables us to continue fulfilling our God-given mission—
“For God’s Glory Briarwood is committed to equipping Christians to worship God to reach Birmingham to reach the world for Christ.”
This season of challenge is a significant opportunity for us to encourage, equip, show mercy and love as well as proclaim and share the Gospel of saving grace in Christ. We can model to the world God’s divine wisdom whereby we address our concerns yet not give way to fear. With confidence in the Providence of a sovereign God, we can live “sensibly, righteously and Godly in this present age.”
Second, I would like to share with you a few Pastoral thoughts as to how our “present situation” provides to us specific ministry opportunities to fulfill both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Intercessory Prayer– May I strongly urge each of us to individually and as families renew our commitment to intercessory prayer for God’s Providence to bring this virus to an end, help us act with wisdom, minister to the needy, be delivered from fear while taking advantage of the inevitable opportunities to present the Gospel of saving grace as we live in a manner which manifests our trust in the sovereign God of grace and glory.
Faithful– Live a faith informed fearless life while wisely taking precautions informed by prudence and Divine wisdom while seeking to model a life in Christ to the world and our covenant children found not only in our homes but throughout our church family who will be learning from us by watching us.
Compassion – History is replete with national and social upheavals produced by plagues, wars and disasters. History also records how Christians led by pastors do not abandon the afflicted in such moments. But they/we seize these moments to minister with the grace of the Lord Jesus, a true sacrificial love that manifests the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus while still being prudent in their lifestyle decisions. The “Company of Pastors” led by John Calvin in Geneva records how the Pastors and the Christians responded to the needs of others with Gospel words and deeds throughout the devastating plagues of the 16th century which actually amplified the Reformation. In our own country the famous African American Pastor Rev. Richard Allen, the pastor of the first (now famous) “Mother Emmanuel Church” in Philadelphia led his parishioners to minister to the victims of the yellow fever plague while many exited the city. They ministered to the afflicted with the love of Christ. Let’s be prepared to also seize such moments in these days to manifest a Christ- confident sacrificial love to others.
Evangelism – We are already hearing of many coming to Christ in areas that are being significantly affected such as in Iran, China and Northern Italy. While I pray God spares us from any devastating effects in our community, I do pray that this situation will be met by believers who bring not only the testimony of Gospel deeds in love but Gospel words whereby men and women may be saved. It is obvious in history that in moments of crisis God makes ready the hearts of men and women as well as boys and girls to receive the Gospel even as the idols of the age are being destroyed.
Thank you for being patient with the length of this Pastoral letter, but honestly there is so much more I would like to share. Perhaps we will be able to do so these coming weeks in our interim sermon schedule. If you are health compromised or vulnerable please remember you can access the services by live streaming by our website or the Briarwood Facebook page.
I am going to leave off the regular schedule of the AM Sermons—“Lifestyle Stewardship in Biblical perspective” and the PM Sermons “Eternity in Biblical Perspective.” We will resume those sermons when we return to our normal schedule. Please know during this time our Pastoral staff as well as the staff leadership is ready and willing to respond to any needs in your life which may occur in the context of this challenging season. Finally, do know that Cindy and I are as available as you need us to be.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good; to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
With great admiration and appreciation in Christ,