March 23, 2020
Well, here we are at the beginning of a second full week of our nation being engaged in a varied quarantine in which different states and domiciles restrict our travels and gatherings based on what they see in their oft-changing contextual conditions. This has led to great confusion in the world at-large and in the church world as well. Yesterday, some churches remained open, some closed altogether; and others like the assemblies I serve as pastor operated as a variant of the latter. I’m not here to say who was right or wrong. Men and women of God, as spiritual leaders, are under stress just as each of us are in our individual lives; however, perhaps allowance should be given that their stress level is greater in that they have laid upon them the burdens of both the spiritual care of the flock and the fiscal solvency of the local assembly, along with that of their personal lives. Like you, they’ve never been here before and must also quell the contrarian spirits of fear and doubt while preaching messages of hope to you. This is not a request for pity, by any means—we signed up for the call. But
it is a request for prayer, faithfulness, unity, solidarity, and cooperation on the part of all leaders and congregants. It might not hurt to throw in a little understanding and take up the slack for each other while doing the same for our pastors. These are challenging times!
Having stated the above, the church nevertheless must continue in its mission no matter the circumstance. I am persuaded that the Lord will back us up! I hear the words of our master when he told the great apostle Peter: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18 AV). It’s just that simple: We, the church, will prevail! However, to ensure that each individual member of the body of Christ shares in that ultimate victory, I call on the congregations that I serve as pastor to embrace one of the chief roles of the church, and that is community. The makeup of the church, although spiritual in nature, has both scientific and social implications. One definition of community defines it as: “a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.” Wow! We can go a lot of different ways with that.
For the greater part of this week, I will be sharing little daily snippets on community with you, God be my help. For now, I want you to be prayerful and ponder the importance of community in the body of Christ. I leave you for now with the words of the apostle Paul: Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part. (Eph. 4:15–16, CEB)
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.