Sunday, March 22nd - No services or activities at Briarwood
Grace and peace to you through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I missed worshiping with you all on Sunday. How are you connecting with God during this quarantine? While many of us feel our lives grinding to a halt, as I look out the window, I see life just beginning! There are buds on some of the trees and the birds are returning! I hope you get outside for a walk to enjoy these gifts from God. What other signs of life have you noticed?
The major update for our church family is that the Session passed a motion to suspend worship services through the end of March. We will not meet for worship on March 22nd or March 29th. During this time, the staff here at Briarwood will be sending out a Weekly Worship email every Friday. There will be prayers, links to songs, and a sermon you can listen to on the church website. Stay tuned!
In addition to suspending worship, Session passed a motion to close the entire church for the rest of the month of March. This affects small church gatherings, such as the Women’s Bible Study, the Book Club, and the Lenten Studies, as well as all of our renters. Also, the gatherings that happen outside the church are also suspended. This includes the Ladies’ Lunches, the Men’s Lunches, and the Wednesday Men’s coffee group.
We will revisit these decisions at the end of March to make decisions for April.
Help for those unable to leave their homes.
Are you unable, for any reason, to get out of the house for groceries or prescriptions? Briarwood can help! Some people in our church family have already volunteered to run errands for groceries or prescriptions for people at Briarwood who are unable to do this for themselves. If you would like to join this team of volunteers OR if you need this help, please contact the church office.
Why has the government asked people to avoid groups of any size?
Staying home and avoiding groups of any size is the best way to slow the rate of infection. While the current risk to Canadians of contracting COVID-19 remains low, the spread of the virus in Canada is still exponential. You can track the numbers here.
Exponential growth means that the rate of infection increases so fast that it can quickly spiral out of control. When this happens, the healthcare system is flooded with patients and it collapses. This means that there would not be enough staff/rooms/equipment to save people with life-threatening illnesses, whether COVID-19 or other preventable illnesses/crises. While it can be difficult to follow the guidelines from the government, we all can make a difference in saving lives by staying home as much as possible. Here is more information about this.
What can happen when these quarantines are not in place?
I just got word from the Pittsburgh Presbytery (where I was ordained) that on March 8th two people who had recently returned from travel abroad went to church feeling great. Then they got sick and were diagnosed with COVID-19. It turns out that they also infected their pastor (before they had symptoms!) and now all the church staff are in quarantine. We won’t know who else was infected for another 2-3 weeks. The restrictions here are in place to prevent things like this from happening. More information on social distancing.
Helpful tips for thriving during a pandemic quarantine:
Inspired by: https://twitter.com/1p3aDev/status/1238993977258512386?s=20
Take the right dose of news. With so much news, it can feel overwhelming. Try reading the news twice per day, for instance, in the morning and in the late afternoon. Avoid news right before bed.
Keep up your routine. Be sure to get daily exercise, keep regular sleep routines, and eat healthily. Regularly connect with family and friends over the phone.
Be mindful of assumptions about others.
Pray. As you hear things that scare or alarm you, lift them up to God in prayer. As you experience things that bring you joy, praise the Lord! If you have no words, just lift the world up to God, and ask for help. God is with us in the midst of this crisis.
Be honest with kids. Honesty is the best policy, especially during times of crisis like this.https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-19-coronavirus-kids-1.5495831
Tips for those with children at home, who are also working from home (?!):
Set a routine for your family.
Be sure to enjoy time together when you are not working.
Give children choices about how they spend their time.
My family has organized ourselves to work all at the same time so that we can play together when we are not working. Quarantine is HARD. You can make it special if you carve out time for play (my family enjoys playing video and board games together!). The kids have a list of 6-7 school-ish activities that they can choose from each day, such as creative writing, reading, math, art, music, etc.. They have to do two before lunch and two after lunch (they choose which ones!). Brett and I work while they are doing this work. And when it’s over, we play! (And cook, and clean, and…please pray for families with children...)
Looking for more ways to connect with God?
Devotional resources for all ages. If you sign-up for these resources, you will receive them by email for the duration of the quarantine, after which the email list will be deleted.
Gratitude helps in a crisis.
I am currently staying at home as much as possible because my asthma puts me at greater risk of critical symptoms if I catch COVID-19. While this is hard, I AM practicing gratitude for Lent. Here goes: I am grateful for the Governments of Canada and Quebec imposing early restrictions on gathering and movement to slow down the spread of the virus. I am grateful for healthcare workers who are advising governments and working on the front lines. I am grateful for people helping others who are in self-isolation or staying at home. I am grateful for the leadership at Briarwood as we make decisions and alter our work in order to respond to this pandemic. I am grateful for our church family. I am grateful for my husband and children. I am also grateful for video games and board games that my family enjoys playing together! What are you grateful for?
Finally, a prayer from the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
May God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
Many blessings in Christ,