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Coronavirus Statement

THREE QUICK THINGS: 4/6/2020

1) Flowers on the Cross
A favorite tradition at First Evan has been placing flowers on the cross Easter Sunday morning. In keeping with Governor Lee’s Executive Order 23 stating that “all persons in Tennessee are required to stay at home except for when engaging in essential activity or essential services,” we have to go with a Plan B. Whether it is just you, with a roommate, or your family, we encourage you to make a cross (even two sticks will do), or use a cross you already have, and place your flowers on that. One family in our church has already made a large one for their yard and are asking their neighbors to participate. Whatever you do, send us a picture of it if you like, including you and your family gathered around your cross for us to post on our social media pages. It will be encouraging to see each other carrying on this tradition while we’re apart. Email the picture to easter@firstevan.org.

2) Good Friday Nails
The Good Friday service on April 10 will be live-streamed at 6:00 p.m. We also have a tradition during that service of placing our names on a slip of paper that reads “Jesus died for (your name),” then placing those papers on nails prefixed to our cross that is flowered Sunday morning. This we will also need to adapt this year. Here’s an idea: before you turn on the service this Friday night, have a nail and post-it note within reach. We’ll give you a time in the service this Friday to write “Jesus died for (your name)” on that post-it note, then affix it with the nail on a mirror you use. On Easter Sunday morning, take the nail and post-it note off the mirror and toss them. In this I’m thinking of the old Rich Mullins song lyrics: 

“Where are the nails that pierced His hands?
Well the nails have turned to rust
But behold the Man
He is risen
And He reigns
In the hearts of the children
Rising up in His name
Where are the thorns that drew His blood?
Well, the thorns have turned to dust
But not so the love.”

3) Remember the Lonely
I remember an insight from a theologian who said solitude is the glory of being alone, while loneliness is the agony of being alone. Not everyone who is alone is lonely (though we’d be surprised how many feel loneliness), and this is not meant as one-more-good-thing-to-do counsel, but maybe reach out to someone you know would enjoy hearing from you? Ask Siri, who is never lonely, to set reminders for you to call someone the Lord brings to mind.

For further reading: File this under the category of “unexpected gifts” as it pertains to adjustments in how those in certain vocations are relating to their work life now: https://newrepublic.com/article/157102/imagining-better-life-coronavirus

Grace to all,
Cole


THREE QUICK THINGS: 3/30/2020

1) The Six Statements
Last Sunday I gave you six statements from J. I. Packer’s Knowing God book, six statements he commends we repeat/preach to ourselves daily in order to cultivate greater attentiveness to who Christ is for us, and greater longing for His return: (1) I am a child of God (2) God is my Father (3) Heaven is my home (4) Everyday is one day nearer (5) My Savior is my brother (6) Every Christian is my brother, too.

2) The Three Questions
If you get into six-foot-apart discussions with neighbors, as everyone is outside now and happy to have interaction with someone other than who they’re isolated with indoors, perhaps these questions can prompt some thoughtful conversations: (1) What has been taken away by this time we’re in? (2) What has remained the same? (3) What has been an unexpected gift?

3) FOCUS
Our FOCUS newsletter is available online only this month, no hard copy in the mail. I wrote an article for it, “The World In Lazaretto,” in which I give some thought to judgment and mercy.

For further reading: My friend Betsy Childs Howard writes about being pregnant and living in New York City during this time. Good stuff here for us all, and particularly anyone who has cause to be anxious: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/pregnant-in-pandemic/

Grace to you all,

Cole


THREE QUICK THINGS: 3/30/2020
 

1) It's Not a Poke in the Ribs
Our online giving button appears on a lot of church communication. Everyone understands that the church still has a payroll to meet, bills to pay, missions to support, as does every other ministry each of us contributes to. Please see our online giving button (how to use here) as equivalent to the giving boxes on campus, not as a poke in the ribs goading you into giving, particularly if you are seeing your resources significantly affected by the current health crisis. Our church members have supported this church generously for 85 years now—through wars, stock market upheavals, terrorist attacks, and now a global pandemic. We’re not worried but I do want to address this with you. There is a benevolence fund also for helping anyone with qualifying needs.

2) Fight for Joy
I don’t remember when I first heard that some have to fight for joy, but I instantly realized I was among them. The fight is against anything that threatens to supplant Jesus as the supreme treasure of my life. John Piper has soaked his ministry in this emphasis and commends to us committing Romans 8 to memory during this time we’re in. I think I’ll make Romans 8 the subject of my homeschool Bible class, now that my two Collierville Dragons have learned there will be a Bible class in the Huffman homeschool for the isolated school year, led by Dad. John Piper’s sermon on Romans 8 (https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/greatest-book-greatest-chapter-greatest-joy) is worth your time.

3) Information Overload
There’s a lot to keep up with as everything goes online now. Emails from my kids’ schools and teachers are filling my inbox atop the regular crush of information to sort through daily. I love the ministry of The Rabbit Room, and appreciate Eli Berry sending the staff this brief prayer for information overload. Be encouraged by it: https://rabbitroom.com/2020/03/a-liturgy-for-those-flooded-by-too-much-information/

 

For further reading: Has anyone asked you yet whether Coronavirus is a judgment of God? Consider N.T. Wright’s answer over at TIME: https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/

 
 

Grace to you all,

Cole