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As this week’s news is unfolding re the Coronavirus, I find myself reflecting on how I respond as a follower of Jesus, and how we respond as the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.  Three things come to mind for me; we are to be strong and courageous, we are to be encouraged in community, and we are to be dependent on God in prayer.

          


 

First, we are to be strong and courageous. The words from Joshua chapter one have always inspired me. Here is Joshua, following in the footsteps of Moses, who is arguably Israel’s most exceptional leader. Joshua now stands on the precipice of leading God’s people into the promised land. Imagine the excitement and the trepidation Joshua must feel having to follow Moses! Imagine the weight of responsibility! Joshua needs a word from God to en-courage him and give him the strength to move forward and lead.  The word of God comes to him saying, “I hereby command you; be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” In our current coronavirus climate, we take the needed precautions, we seek to be wise, but we are also called as the church to be strong and not to fear. The world still needs the church to be a blessing….especially right now. With God’s strength, we do not shrink back in fear of being the church. We walk forward confidently, knowing God is with us.

 

Secondly, we are to be encouraged in community. Inevitably, the coronavirus is impacting work schedules, travel plans, and worshipping communities. Our worship will be impacted for the next few weeks. However, even if your work, travel, or schedule is disrupted right now, it doesn’t mean that you need to be alone in it. Our elders and staff are thinking and planning ways to develop our online community and presence during this time. We all should be thinking through how we can continue to meet in homes and visit those who desire to be cared for. Now is the time to reach out and call a friend for mutual encouragement. If you know someone who is aging in our congregation, call them and pray with them. Enjoy the fellowship of your Lenten group as everyone feels comfortable. Invite a friend over for coffee or tea. We are not made for isolation…we are made to enjoy and serve God and one another.

 

Finally, this is an opportunity to be dependent on God in prayer. I have been so encouraged by the way prayer is part of our identity as a church. Our church’s founding pastor Dr. Henry Newell wrote the following words, “We believe the Presbyterian Church of Hollywood was born of prayer, in a pastor’s study, in Los Angeles in the latter part of 1903.” Our mission statement reads, “We believe God is calling us to be a praying and worshipping community in the city.” Together, we pray for our church and leadership in this time of transition. We pray for those close to us who we love. We pray for our community and world that we would not be overcome by fear. We pray that God would give us a fresh vision for ministry in Hollywood for the next 100 years and beyond. We pray.

 

May God bless you richly with his strength and his presence, with relationships around you, and meet you in your times of prayer in this upcoming week.

 

For further reflection:

Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

  1. What is your daily rhythm of prayer? Do you tend to pray in the mornings or evenings, or both? On your walks, in the car, or as you do dishes?
  2. What is a prayer you have on your heart this week? Take a moment to share your heart with your loving Heavenly Father.
  3. What is a prayer you have on your heart for our church? Take a moment to share your heart with our Heavenly Father.
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