Pastoral Note – March 24

Dear Yates Family,

I hope this letter finds each of you safe and at home as we walk together and support one another through all the pandemic precautions of our time. I’m praying for you and our church, that we would truly be that “growing community alive with Christ, energized to share God’s transforming love.” Over the time we cannot gather, I want to send a personal message weekly (hopefully not “weakly!”) to encourage and provoke you to imagine all the amazing ways you can embody God’s transforming love right where you are.

Have you noticed over the last couple of weeks all the talk about “essential” workers? We are aware of those laboring tirelessly in our healthcare system, pharmacy and research fields, healing and preparing to heal many more infected by COVID-19. We know there are many in government who are having to plan afterword for decisions made overnight for public health and safety. I have been heartened to see a new appreciation for those workers who provide the necessary services we take for granted, like driving freight trucks, stocking our grocery shelves, collecting our garbage, staffing the gas station or driving our city buses. Still, for many others, staying home is the very best thing they can do.

One of the ways that I have reframed my own at-home anxiety and frustration has been to consider those who do not have the luxury of taking their children to work, working from home or taking the time off. We depend on them too much. I thank God for them and pray for them. I hope you will, too.

Did you know our state considers early education programs “essential?” Even while our state mandated closure of schools, movie theaters, restaurants and so forth, the same leaders have implored daycare and preschool facilities to remain open. It’s not hard to understand when you consider that so many of those who provide necessary services need a safe place for their children to be well-cared for.

After considerable deliberation, the Yates Baptist Child Development Center has chosen to remain open. Staying open brings its own challenge and risk, since some cannot work because they are identified as particularly at-risk themselves. Many programs in Durham have already closed.  This decision reflects our deep commitment to the welfare of our neighborhood and to those neighbors who need this service in order to serve the community. As part of this commitment, the Yates CDC will also temporarily serve as an emergency program for children of state-recognized essential workers, particularly hospital employees, in our area who have no other place for care.  As it turns out, there are many.

I am exceedingly proud of the commitment June and her team are exhibiting these days, selflessly demonstrating the helping, healing love of Christ and steadfastly committing to the welfare of the neighborhood at a critical time. This commitment also raises logistical challenges that require everyone’s support, though. In some ways, the center is temporarily reorganizing from bottom to top in about a week. There are a few Yates mission projects to support the center that we will be inviting you into over the next few weeks. Keep your eyes and ears open!

So how about you? Right where you are, today? You might be tempted to think that sheltering in place or maintaining appropriate distance somehow deems your life “non-essential.” Don’t give in to that thinking, or let it subvert your own sense of worth at this time. You are a member of Christ’s church, a member of Yates Baptist Church.  God’s word tells you that “you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27 – emphasis mine)

Every member of the body of Christ is essential. I believe now more than ever is the time for the church and every Christian in it to rise up and shine light where there is darkness, speak peace where there is fear, show wisdom where there is chaos and offer community where there is isolation. Before you lay your head down to rest tonight, you can pray, make a call, write a letter, FaceTime or in other ways connect and lift someone else up. You can dedicate some of your time to reading or study, strengthening your mind and spirit in the face of all the uncertainties that still lie ahead. You can be a leader in finding creative ways to draw together fellow church members, even while physically distant.

One of the ways you can be personally helpful to me this week is to be in touch and let me know about the ways you are creatively covering the distance between others and you. Let me know if you have thoughts about how we can grow as a community. We are never alone in this good work.  I pray every day that the Holy Spirit is at work in our church, and every member of it. We are in this together, and together, we will see it through.

Grace & Peace,

Christopher

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