Thoughts and Updates from Pastor Doyle

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”   -- 1 John 4:18

Over the past couple of weeks, several different faith leaders have said that in the current suspension of the usual order of things, we are free to live and act in another way -- hopefully the way of Christ.  Indeed, this is a great approach for us to have in these unusual, upending times.

Yes, all aspects of life as we have known it have been affected in some way. Yes, there are difficulties and concerns.  But there are also many possibilities and opportunities for us to be disciples and do Christ-like ministry!  

Let’s focus not on fear, but on Christ-like love.

We all want things to “get back to normal” and by that we mean we want to have a vaccine or cure for CoronaVirus so that we can move about and assemble and work and play with no restrictions and no fear of pandemic.  

Although we do not yet have a vaccine, governors and mayors are cautiously in the process of re-opening our society.  Unfortunately, the “church” and mass events like concerts and sports are of such a nature that these are the last things that will be reopened.

Both the State of Tennessee, and our Bishop, have respectively set guidelines for re-opening in-person activities for communities of faith.  Bishop McAlilly has set June 21 as the earliest tentative date for any United Methodist church in our area to restart in-person worship. He asked that our local leadership prayerfully, and thoroughly, go over all the guidelines, attendance limits, and other restrictions as we consider our local situation and logistics.  I as pastor will take all that into consideration before making any decisions.  

Our staff and Church Council have meet via an internet video meeting. After looking over the stages of reopening, and examining our particular context here at White House-First, the consensus was that we are not ready to reopen in-person worship at this time.  

We will re-start in person worship as soon as we can do it both faithfully, and safely.

We are living in fluid times. It is our natural inclination to want to know more details and specifics and times. When we don’t have these desired certitudes we can go one of two ways.  We can let fear overcome us, or we can overcome fear with faith.  We are people of faith! And we claim the Biblical affirmation that mature love casts our fear!

In this difficult season of transitions, let us excel at loving one another as Christ loves us.  Let us put our personal needs as secondary to meeting the needs of others, especially the most vulnerable.  By faith we can fulfill the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to love, serve, and care for one another.

In closing I share this prayer from Barbara Glasson, president of the Methodist Conference, Britain.

We are not people of fear:
We are people of courage.
We are people
who protect our safety:
who protect our neighbors’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.

And the people of God say, Amen.

Grace and Peace,
Lloyd Doyle, pastor