Updated May 16th, 2020.
Beloved, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will be cancelling our corporate Lord’s Day worship services at least through May 29th. However, in light of our President’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again and our Governor’s plan to move New York Forward, we are currently developing a plan for a modified weekly worship service once we resume our public gatherings.
This decision has not been made reluctantly or resentfully, nor out of panic or doubt. In fact, we have been happy to comply with our government’s regulations and to follow the directions of our state and local authorities. Out of a sincere love for God and neighbor, we ought to abide by public health guidelines and reduce exposure during this season. We all must do our part in helping to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (For a fascinating visual explanation of how to “flatten the curve,” see this helpful article.)
Yes, we have missed our weekly time of corporate worship and the fellowship of the saints—a means of grace which we so desperately need! But during this time of strange providence, may we long not only to gather once more as a local church, but all the more to gather together with the Church of Christ around the throne of the Lamb in glory forever. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The Church “Scattered”
In light of our extended service cancellations, we will continue posting an online worship service video each Sunday morning by 10am on our Facebook page and YouTube channel until further notice. While there is simply no substitute for the corporate worship of the gathered church and all the means of grace provided therein, there are still some elements we can include in an online service.
We hope this virtual gathering is a great encouragement for all of you as you worship in your homes. It remains our prayer that the Lord will use these circumstances to increase our affection for one another, our desire for corporate worship, and our commitment to meet together all the more once we are able to do so. (Thank you all for your patience and prayers as we attempt to navigate these strange times!)
We encourage you to check out our recommended resources as well as our specific page for “Lockdown Resources.” There, you will find links to a variety of trusted ministries (such as free online learning through TGC Courses and family-friendly videos from BibleProject), including hundreds of hours of sermons and teachings, that will be of great benefit to you especially at this time. We will also continue to publish encouraging and informative articles on our church blog.
In this season of isolation it is important for us to be aware of the unique opportunities we have for spiritual reflection and growth. We should consider how to make the best use of our time in quarantine and how we can remain faithful and obedient to the Lord Jesus (Eph. 5:15-17).
Let us also not only devote ourselves to the Word, but also to prayer. The Apostle Paul’s instructions are helpful here:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
The book of Psalms and Paul’s letters are full of Spirit-inspired prayers that we may pray to our Heavenly Father. Psalm 86 and Colossians 1:9-14 are a great place to start!
ECC uses services provided by Tithe.ly for mobile and online giving. For those who are able to continue giving to our church during this time, you may do so in any of the following ways:
- The Tithe.ly mobile app, available for both iOS and Android
- Online through the giving page on our church website
- You can also give by mail (addressed to 237 E Miller St, Elmira, NY 14904)
Tithe.ly gives you the options of linking either a credit/debit card or a bank account (for which the processing fee is significantly lower), of setting up recurring giving, and even of electing to cover processing fees. For more information, visit their FAQ page for donors.
Christ, Our Sanctuary
Beloved, amidst this time of uncertainty and anxiety, be encouraged that Christ is King over all, that nothing takes our God off guard, that this pandemic will pass, and that God’s perfect plan of salvation through judgment will be accomplished.
During this season of not being able to gather as a local church, listen to the words of Charles Spurgeon from his classic devotional published in 1893:
“ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’”— Ezekiel 11:16
Banished from the public means of grace, we are not removed from the grace behind the means of grace. The Lord who places his people where they feel like exiles will himself be with them. He will be to them all that they could have had at home in the place of their sacred assemblies. Take this promise as your own if you are called to wander!
God is to his people a place of refuge. They find sanctuary with him from every adversary. He is their place of worship too. He is with them as he was with Jacob when he slept in the open field and woke, saying, “Surely the LORD is in this place” (Gen. 28:16). To them he will also be a sanctuary of peace, like the Most Holy Place, which was the noiseless abode of the Eternal. They will be kept from fear of evil.
God himself, in Christ Jesus, is the sanctuary of mercy. The ark of the covenant is the Lord Jesus, and Aaron’s rod, the pot of manna, the tables of the law are in Christ our sanctuary. In God we find the shrine of holiness and of communion. What more do we need?
Oh, Lord, fulfill this promise and always be to us like a little sanctuary!