All public gatherings of SMCC, including Lord’s Day worship, will be canceled until further notice.

All public gatherings of SMCC, including Lord’s Day worship, will be canceled until further notice.

Brothers and sisters,

Your elders met (digitally) to pray, talk and weep together last night concerning our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As you know, we have wanted to act with a bold compliance in this situation. While some turned up the intensity to 11 immediately, we have taken matters slowly and prayerfully. But as a result of last night’s meeting and the latest information on hand, we have decided that…All public gatherings of SMCC, including Lord’s Day worship, will be canceled until further notice.

The present suffering

In recent days, governing agencies have specified their orders regarding public gatherings. The CDC is now restricting public gatherings to less than 50 with recommendations to less than 10.  The state has ordered all over 65 to “self isolate” and counties on each side of us have already issued “shelter in place” orders. We fully expect SLO county to follow suit. 

Let’s be clear, this is the responsibility that God has given to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7). If the government were to tell us we cannot meet to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances, we would not comply with that order. However, this is not that kind of order. It has been 100 years since the authorities have made this kind of request to churches. We do not have to like it or even agree with it to comply.

It is no small thing to not gather for worship on the Lord’s Day. It is the command of Scripture (Heb. 10:24-25), the practice of the church (1 Cor. 16:2) and it is our great joy. It is truly an hour that is not like every other hour. This is where God feeds us with both Word and ordinance. This is where we see each other’s faces and share in the fellowship of the saints. This is where the Spirit of God uses the Word of God in the mouths of the people of God to shape our hearts. It is a true loss to not gather and it cannot be substituted by any other means. Let’s mourn together what we will be missing.

The future glory

While there is no substitute for gathering on the Lord’s Day, we are grateful for the means that God has given us to stay connected. We are urging you to take advantage of them. 

First, let’s be clear. A recorded sermon is not a sermon, a video recorded worship service is not a worship service and a church cannot “gather” digitally. These are theologically incorrect, a dangerous substitution and a dismissal of the true loss, fear and loneliness that we are experiencing in this crisis.

In the next few days, we will send to you a service order for Sunday morning to be used in your home. It will include a “Call” for someone to read, a long reading to do and guidance on how to pray for you family, your church and your community. I (Pastor Robert) will speak to you on Facebook Live from Romans 8:18-25. (As your elders discussed whether this was a good time to diverge from the current series in order to focus on the situation at hand, Bob Taylor opened a Bible and read, I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. We all realized that God has gone ahead of us.) I will conclude with a prayer and a benediction. We are consider how we might continue to participate in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. 

I hope you feel the loss of what we are missing and, at the same time, feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit in your heart and in your people. I hope you feel the weight of what you are doing when you speak the Call to Worship and pray for your household. Fathers, or head of household, this is a holy obligation. It is not to be taken lightly or to be taken to downplay what happens on a Sunday when we gather. This is a wartime effort and these are wartime measures.

You will hear again from us regarding midweek programs and ways in which we can perhaps encourage one another, pray and read together through digital media during the week. If that is something you would like to participate in, please reach out.

Keeping in Touch

In order to keep in touch, please ensure that you are participating in our current means of communication.

  1. Download the SMCC smartphone app.  App for AndroidApp for Iphone. When notifications come from the church, open them. This is the primary, family only, means of our communication, connection and encouragement right now. Click on the links to read, pray and sing along with us.
  2. Ensure that you can login to mysmcc. This is our church database where you can get phone numbers to call others in the church. And please call people. Who? Whoever you think of. What do you say? Say, I miss you, Ive been thinking of you, I can’t wait until we can worship together again.
  3. Do you receive the all church email? Please reach out to us so you can be included.
  4. Follow SMCC on FB and IG as a means of encouragement and comment.
  5. Please be regular with your giving as we are separated. This still remains our family responsibility and privilege. You can give to your regular offering and to the Help Fund through online giving. People will be needing our financial during this time.

Lastly, how can you pray?

  • Pray for the health and safety of our “at risk” brothers and sisters in the church, in our families and in our neighborhoods.
  • Pray for God’s mercy on our nation. Pray that repentance and faith would be our national response to this crisis.
  • Pray for the mission of this church, that at every table in every household, we bear fruit for generations while under the pressure of today.

Here is a prayer from the Lutheran Book of Prayer for times of Crisis. My family has used this prayer book for many years. May it bring comfort to you today.

Heavenly Father, I come to Your throne of mercy, bowed down and wearied by the weight of suffering and disaster visited on our country. I beg You to protect this nation in our hour of need. I acknowledge my trespasses before You and do not deny either my own transgressions of Your holy Law or the sins of other citizens of my homeland. We are laden with iniquity, but You call us to Your forgiveness, salvation, hope, and life. Turn the hearts and minds of all to You, that they might find peace through the cleansing of Jesus’ blood. Let me not be confounded or dismayed, so that I, a child of your grace, may courageously speak to this needy world the hope that is within me. Make me an instrument of Your peace in a world of conflict, a witness to the power of faith in the world lost in unbelief, and a bearer of the joy that overcomes the sorrow of a fallen world. Grant to the leaders of this nation and all the nations of the world wise counsel, calm thinking, and unselfish aims. Amid the tumult of disaster, build Your kingdom and turn even more souls to Yourself. Because of Your grace, we are not altogether lost but find peace and forgiveness in You. Oh Lord, give me the grace to seek You, trust You, and confess You; in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Pastor Robert for your elders.