Dear church,

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is causing extraordinary disruption to our communities, our nation, and our world. Covid-19 is highly contagious and represents a real danger, especially for the

most vulnerable. As people of faith, however, we need not fear because we know that Covid-19 is not the final word. God alone has the final word. He is sovereign. And he is lovingly directing the creation to his intended purposes.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps 91:1-2)

This is no time for blasé attitudes towards government requests for social hygiene practices. We completely affirm the directions being set by the Ministry of Health (https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus), and encourage you all to be taking the recommended precautions to protect yourselves and others from the spread of this virus. But nor is it time to let fear overwhelm us. As Christians, we worship a God who is sovereign, a God who is present, and a God who is compassionate. We will continue to journey together as his children in the weeks and months to come, choosing the joy of the Lord even in the midst of suffering.

The sense we have as a leadership team is that God is inviting us to something creative and positive in response. As in all things, God is taking this bad thing and subverting it for his good and eternal purposes. Things are going to look a bit different, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At this stage, we are still planning to go ahead with this week’s Sunday Gathering at 144 Sawyers Arms Rd, but we await the Government’s recommendation regarding public gatherings (expected on Friday). In light of that, we are actively making alternative plans to switch to a small group form of church with online services if and when the time comes (e.g. the sermon on video and a service prepared for small groups to do together). The Holy Spirit is inviting us to a more agile, more personal, more missional neighbourhood-oriented practice of church! And guess what . . . he’s done this before! Check out Acts 8:1-4—through the scattered church God’s word came to be preached all over the Roman Empire. And I believe I’ll see you do it again . . . Yes, there’s pain here. But yes, our God has overcome the grave, and he will enable us to do the same.

In the meantime:

1. Wash your hands.

2. Ensure your contact details at church are up to date.

3. Let’s pray!

Our Father, you are good and your name is above all names! United to Christ, we intercede for your world: bring healing where there is illness, calm where there is anxiety, and community where there is loneliness. And help us, by your Spirit, to continue to walk faithfully as your people, called by you to be the light of the world: by your strength, please cause our light to shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. Your kingdom come on earth as in heaven! Amen.

Nāku nā,

Elliot Rice
Co-Senior Pastor

M: 0226188088
https://www.papbap.org.nz/