Pastoral Letter for May 2, 2020
The above graphic is a fun way of reminding you not to skip church this Sunday just because it’s just so easy to do. It’s easy to say, “I’ll watch it later” but it’s also easy to forget. The staff has been fascinated by the YouTube viewing analytics which show us how many views we get, what’s the average time, what’s the total time, etc. (BTW, the average time is way less than the length of the sermons, I mean, what’s that about?). We know that most of you still watch the sermon on Sunday, but others watch throughout the week. It’s interesting – while the number of views is going down, the total time watched is going up.
This is the eighth pastoral letter of the coronavirus pandemic and I hope it still finds you healthy and sane! And I mean sane as so many of us just want a change, a return to something resembling normalcy, even if it’s just a chance to go for a car ride to somewhere I don’t have to wear a mask. These are tough times in which the church is unable to be the resource it has been in the past. We need others, we need their laughter, their encouragement, and as bodily creatures, we need their hugs. Hugs, and our physical presence, are a casualty of the current situation. We can reproduce some aspects of ministry but meeting virtually is not the way church is supposed to be. Some of us struggle with our faith and need public worship so we can lean on the faith of those who are not. So we do what we can.
It’s intriguing to note that there were times, at least, in Jesus’ life when He opted for periods of social distancing. “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray,” Matthew tells us. This, at least, is one thing that we can be doing. We can use this time to pray for one another. Every day this month, I’ll be posting on our Facebook Group a prayer request for people effected by this pandemic, both for those who help and those who need help. The daily prayer requests for the month of May swirl around the needs that this unique time has brought to the table. Pray for these, for others in the church, for those in your community group, for those who are vulnerable.
We are a church, and to speak of the church in isolation from one another is in many respects a contradiction. The words translated “church” in the Old and New Testament are words that mean “assembly.” We are MEANT to gather, to do what our commitment to each other needs done, and yet what we’re not allowed to do some of those things right now. Zoom Bible studies and Zoom Session meetings and Zoom Community Group meetings are welcome, but not the norm. We’re meant to be together and the longer this goes on the more we’ll feel that.
But as we lament what we’ve lost, I hope you still laugh. There is sorrow for sure, but “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22). To laugh is to acknowledge that the kingdom of this world will fall. To laugh is to know that there is yet something better before us. That was the hope that permeated the reigns of Israel’s kings, this longing for the Messiah, for something better, and it is still the hope of the Christian looking for the return of Christ.
However, we are asked, though we do not know the timing of our savior’s return, do we know when public worship will return? There are increasing public calls for us to return to worship each week. As of yet, we are not able. As some states open before our state does, we’ll feel an even greater pressure to start meeting again. And so, we will continue to monitor the counsel of public health agencies and remember that to take steps to reduce the spread of this coronavirus is a very pro-life act. For the church to sacrifice for the sake of our neighbors is an act of love.
All of which has gotten us thinking about how once we get used to doing church online, things are going to change. We hope we’ll be able to start meeting again in May or June, so we’ve begun planning for that day. It will be like a great reunion! However, if you remember, we had a phased plan leading to worship at home, so we’ll likely have a phased plan leading up to worshiping together again. It will include multiple phases, multiple times, and possibly even multiple locations. We will incorporate the CDC and state guidance on having limited numbers and protective measures – all leading up to that day when we be together again.
But this I can say: when once again God’s people are cleared to join in public worship, THAT day will be Easter, no matter when it falls. THAT Sunday we’ll be able to show each other how much we missed them. THAT Sunday will be a time to fellowship together. THAT Sunday will be a time a fellowship with Christ, at the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper. THAT Sunday will be the Sunday we celebrate life and the promise of life in Him, for the Lord is risen, indeed. I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am.
You need to know that your Session continues to meet together and pray for you. A few quick things for you to consider…
- Please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Go to YouTube and search for PHPC or try this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYgRYaRNvD3ueqIQgZ0v6mA
- We’re trying to emphasize being engaged on social media even more than normal. So go to Realm, our Facebook Group, our Facebook Page and let us know how you’re doing, what are you reading, what are you learning, and simply carry on the conversations online that you would normally have face-to-face.
- We understand that the economy has been hit hard and that some of our families have suffered from that. That said, you should know that compared to the first 10 weeks of the year, our giving has been down about $1,800 a week since the stay-at-home order began. We have already cut the 2020 budget about $20,000, but if this downward giving trend continues, we’ll have to cut the budget even more. If you’re able to give, please know that you may give in 4 different ways – Billpay, mailed checks, through Realm, or through PayPal.
Billpay service is provided by most banks through their website and we recommend this.
Just have the checks sent to the church office: Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church
You can also mail your checks 2 Cardinal Park Drive, SE, Suite 101A
to the church office at this address. Leesburg, VA 20175
If you have a Realm account, you can give through the “Realm Connect” app on your phone, or through the “Giving” tab when you’re logged into Realm.
Even if you’re not in Realm you can give by going to this link,: https://onrealm.org/PotomacHills/-/give/now or by texting PHPCgive to 73256.
Finally, we accept PayPal payments to the account email@example.com
- And please don’t forget about our All-Church Night of Prayer on Thursday, May 28th. None of the Community Groups will be scheduled that week so everyone can join together on Zoom to pray. We’ll have a special prayer guide that night to follow along. We hope you find this special night of prayer to be helpful. We always have reasons to pray.
I miss you! And I can’t wait to see you again! Lord willing … soon,
Dr. David V. Silvernail, Jr., Senior Pastor
Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church