Our world has changed dramatically in the last week. We went from life as usual to events, activities, schools, restaurants all closing. The COVID-19 virus has slown everything down like nothing we have ever seen. As I have prayed and processed this… at first I began to get frustrated.
*Church events being cancelled
*Not having church at our facility for a few weeks possibly a few months.
*Will our church make it financially if we go without a worship service for an extended length of time?
*It’s my son’s senior Year in high school – is this really fair to him?
*What would 4 weeks of my kids being home do to my wife?
But on Saturday as I was doing some things outside I realized that although this is and will be a tough time in our nation – this is also a great opportunity… that we have to think outside the box on how we can PIVOT.
We are being forced to DISCONNECT from people, sports, and events. But what if we looked at it as a way to RECONNECT in the most important areas of our life. What if in the midst of this series on ELIMINATING HURRY FROM OUR LIFE… we look at this time as an opportunity to do just that. Rather than filling our time with “things”, we decide to RECONNECT in the deepest areas of our life.
What if we looked at this as a moment in time as a KAIROS opportunity.
What if we chose to RECONNECT or CONNECT DEEPER with our SPOUSES? What could that look like? Laughing together… going for walks together… dreaming together…. What if we intentional decided to take this moment to LOVE OUR WIVES OR HUSBANDS deeper.
RECONNECT TO OUR FAMILIES. What if instead of taking the next 4 weeks and counting down til they go back to school. We look at this moment and we choose to go deeper with them. What if we discipled them during these 4 weeks? What if we did some projects together? We created together? We played together? What if we intentional decided to RECONNECT.
RECONNECT W/ OUR NEIGHBORS – I know we are needing to “social distance” but to prayerfully and carefully figure out ways to love your neighbors during this time. Offer to get stuff at the store for them when you go out. Check in on them to see how they are doing. Maybe drop off a dessert or something else to them. Or even deeper, and if you feel comfortable – do a watch party for our online worship service this week… or just ask Jesus what ideas he has for you to reconnect with our neighbors.
RECONNECT WITH JESUS – This is what stirs my heart. What if we took this time of slowing down and we decided to invest it – in going deeper in our relationship with Jesus. We spend more time studying and getting to know Him. We spend time outside worshiping him. We put music on to calm our souls.
RECONNECT WITH OUR CHURCH – although we will be doing almost everything remotely or online – we want to offer you opportunities to stay connected. We want to pray for each other. We want to encourage the lonely. We want to be creative in some of our worship times.
What if you CHOSE TO NOT DISCONNECT right now but RECONNECT to the most important things in your life? Everything is cancelled except some of the most important things in your life.
HIGHER HOPE –
Sunday we sat down with some of our leadership and we began creatively brainstorming how to redeem this time. We have a few things we are working on, while at the same time listening to all of you for some of your #crazyideas, while at the same time listening to the Holy Spirit.
This Sunday we will be completely ONLINE for worship at 9 am. We will be doing it on our YOUTUBE CHANNEL and FACEBOOK live.
We are trying to add – a family friendly version at 10:30 am – with some active worship, fun games, in-depth teaching and hopefully a few more surprises. So we will be having two unique worship times this week.
We are also looking at providing some ONLINE opportunities for you to RECONNECT. We want to invest in kids and youth during this time in discipleship. So keep your eyes open to the opportunities.
I want to encourage you to take this POLL so that we can see where we put our time… But I can tell you although I don’t know how long we will be asked to “social Distance” or what new regulations are coming down the road, I am excited about releasing our people to RECONNECT in many different ways.
This is an incredible opportunity for Higher Hope and the church all over the world. I don’t want to waste it in fear… I want to create a place where PEOPLE ARE GOING DEEP and experiencing church like they didn’t before.
I am praying for our church – and you.
In this season, of isolation – don’t stay there. Let us know how we can be praying or ideas you have or a way we can serve you.
Update 7pm 3/14/2020
As we have continued to watch the developments in our community and in the surrounding areas – particularly the state of emergency and the cases that have been discovered in Tioga and near Ithaca…
and in the idea that we are in this series of ELIMINATING HURRY IN OUR LIFE – I want to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU to join us online for our worship service at 9 am on FACEBOOK and if you get up late you can watch it anytime after that. Wear your pajamas, we will have some fun things for you to do as you and your family join us.
We still will have a live service – but will not have Children’s Ministry or Cafe… if you deeply desire to get out and worship with us in person you can join us at 9 am but we are strongly encouraging people to join us online. We hope the majority of people will stay home and enjoy the time to SLOW DOWN and yet still worship.
Higher Hope Family –
As many of you are aware there has been and will be an abundance of discussion on the COVID-19 virus. We have been watching carefully the developments as new guidelines and recommendations have come out both in New York State and in our County. We are constantly monitoring these developments and considering and praying how we should respond.
First, I just want us to pause and take an account of who is in control. Rest in the fact that He alone is God. And we can trust Him.
Psalm 46: 1-7, 10
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
So we do want to pray and seek God and also we desire to rest in Him.
But we also want to take the appropriate steps to create a safe and caring environment for God to work. So in an abundance of caution and care for the Higher Hope Church family, and with a desire to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in New York we encourage you to take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself, your family, and the Higher Hope Church family safe and healthy. At this time, Sunday morning worship services, High Five (Children’s ministry), WIRED (our youth ministry) , and many of our small groups and other events are going to proceed. We are closely monitoring all information and guidance from officials with the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We will prayerfully determine on a day-to-day basis whether further steps are needed and update accordingly.
For Sunday mornings, we caution you to practice the standard, flu-season safety precautions that we are already familiar with, including:
● Cough etiquette and hygiene – cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, not your hands
● Thorough and regular hand washing (particularly after touching your face) for at least 20 seconds (the Lord’s Prayer is a great timer!)
● Social distancing (limiting physical contact with others) – use verbal greetings instead of hand shakes or hugs
● Contain; if you are sick, please stay home
Risk-Related Guidance for Sunday Morning Participation
Based on guidance from the CDC, we request you do not attend Sunday morning worship services or any other events at Higher Hope if you show any symptoms.
We also encourage those with…
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease
- Immunosuppressed individuals (people with recent or upcoming surgeries; people on autoimmune treatments, including steroids; people with impaired heart, kidney, or liver function; or people going through cancer treatment)
- Direct caregivers of at-risk individuals (non-medical personnel)
to be very careful in their decisions as they proceed.
Additionally, we request you do not attend Sunday morning worship services or any other event
- Have had flu-like symptoms (including cough, fever, shortness of breath) in the past 14 days
- Have traveled internationally within the past 14 days
- Have traveled recently to domestic areas that have been highly affected by the coronavirus in the past 14 days
- Have been in close contact with someone with flu-like symptoms in the past 14 days
We do plan on having our Sunday Morning worship services this week at 9 and 10:30 am. We are adding a live stream through facebook https://www.facebook.com/HigherHopeNY/?ref=bookmarks for our services this week and ongoing weeks. So if you desire to stay home we encourage you to stay connected through this live stream.
We will be: Requesting people limit hand shaking and other contact, we will have people in place to open the door for you, we will be cleaning between services some high traffic areas, we will be adding chairs so that you can sit further apart.
As we continue to do ministry at Higher Hope we would ask you to consider to set up recurring giving from our website (https://www.kindridgiving.com/app/giving/higherhope) or on our Higher Hope App. You can also set up one time or recurring giving through your bank. You can also mail your tithe or offering to: 356 Maple St Big Flats NY 14845. Offering baskets/buckets will still be available in the Sunday morning services, however you will now find them with our ushers near the exits at the end of the service. We care deeply for those who are already affected by this and are praying for God’s leading and wisdom as we navigate the next few weeks. Stay Informed The best source of information on COVID-19 is the CDC’s website. Thank you for helping us keep Higher Hope Church a safe place to gather as we seek to “lead people to abundant life in Jesus Christ”
If you have questions or concerns feel free to email Pastor Mike at Pastormike@higherhopechurch.org.
Pastor Mike Schooley