Dear Blue Mound Family & Friends,
I pray this message finds you and your families well in the new year that God stretches before us. And I pray a specific blessing of God’s grace and healing on all who are sick and whose lives are increasingly disrupted and overturned by the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks and months, we have seen unprecedented increases in new cases of the virus, including right here in Denton County. Along with other conditions and illnesses, this has also resulted in our county hospitals being pushed to concerningly high occupancy levels, particularly in ICU.
* Reference from https://gis-covid19-dentoncounty.hub.arcgis.com/pages/covid-19cases
Anecdotally, COVID-19 has come closer and closer to many of our lives as friends and relatives have contracted the virus and/or spent time in quarantine. Two of our current member families (that I am aware of) been COVID positive during this time period as well, one family whose case was confirmed this week. The vaccine brings with it a measure of hope in our fight to control the pandemic, but we know it will take time before we see its widespread effects.
As I have spoken with some of you about these realities, and as Michelle, Ian, and I have prayed deeply over these realities, I no longer feel that it is responsible or faithful (a) for me to put myself and my family at risk by continuing with in person worship, particularly indoors, or (b) for us as a church family to place one another at risk by exposure, even with the current safety measures in place.
Starting this Sunday, January 10, I am calling for a pause on in-person worship and gatherings. As always, your worship staff and I will do our best to broadcast faithful and meaningful worship on Sundays at 10:45 am at www.facebook.com/bluemoundmethodist. And in the coming weeks, I will work with our church leaders and worship staff to plan for the best steps to take during this time. The Leadership Team will meet again in March to evaluate where we are and where we are going.
I know that we are not all of one mind on how best to handle things during this pandemic, and there will be some who disagree with this course of action. I pray that we can all find the compassion to care for one another in love through our differences at this time.
For my part, this is not about cowering in fear, but rather living up to our divine calling to “do no harm” and “do all the good we can”, per the General Rules of Wesleyan heritage. Someone once told Jesus that he would be safe if he threw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, that God would protect him. In the face of that challenge to his faith, Jesus drew on scripture that lived in his heart, the heart of God, to say, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:5-7). I pray that Jesus leads me, not in fear, but in the way of sacrificial love that drives me to have care and concern for those most vulnerable, that leads me in wisdom that does not test God with my foolishness, that opens me more deeply to God’s kingdom community, even in our physical distance. And I pray for each of you, my family, that we see God’s face in unexpected ways in the coming days and weeks.