A Momentary Sacrifice
Dear VCL Family,
On October 30th, I wrote a letter explaining why the elders decided not to follow Governor Pritzker’s latest mitigation restrictions (Tier 2) and to continue worshipping together. At that time, we believed our precautions were sufficient to protect ourselves and our community.
Since then, we’ve watched the positivity rates and case numbers rise steadily in our region, as well as across the state and country. The governor has ordered a new round of restrictions (Tier 3). Experts and officials at every level are urging people to stop gathering, as well as a significant number of evangelical healthcare professionals. Hospital capacity is still decent in our area, but local healthcare officials are concerned that those numbers could drop quickly and hospitals could be overwhelmed if community spread continues unchecked.
As I noted on the 30th, the state has no constitutional right to shut down our gatherings. This puts us in an interesting position. Though we can meet together in a legal sense, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should. If our friends, neighbors, and coworkers are all being urged to stay home and play their part in quelling this surge, then where does that leave us as a church?
In the elders’ judgment, the most loving thing we can do for both our people and our community is to voluntarily sacrifice meeting together until our region moves from Tier 3 back to Tier 2. That means we will not be gathering for public worship at VCL until further notice. Instead, we will be gathering virtually via YouTube. You can find more details on that below.
Note: Small gatherings (under 25) will continue to be permitted under our current guidelines.
We did not approach this decision lightly. I understand that some of you will disagree, and I fully respect your position. This was a tough call—much tougher than the one we had to make back in March. On balance, however, the elders believe this to be the right call right now.
I want you to know that we’ve not acted out of fear or on account of government compulsion. We believe this to be an act of sacrificial love for the people of our church and the communities in which we all live, work, and play. We pray that, as we all do our part, this surge will calm down quickly and that we’ll be able to resume our gathered worship within a few weeks.
On a more personal note, you won’t see Pastor Casey or me on the stream this weekend. Due to potential exposure, Casey and Danielle are quarantined until Tuesday. Thankfully, they’re both doing well right now. The Silvas’ story is a bit different. Suzanne came down with symptoms earlier this week and has tested positive for COVID. She’s doing well for the most part; you couldn’t even tell by looking at or talking to her that anything is wrong. So far, I’ve experienced some symptoms myself, but they’ve ebbed and flowed over the past few days. I’ll most likely be tested soon. Please pray that our cases would be mild, the Lord would protect our children, and that we’d find a way to care for them without exposing them to any more risk than is absolutely necessary.
I want you to know that these personal run-ins with the virus have not determined our thinking on whether to shut down public worship, but they do serve as two data points in a narrative that’s unfolding around us. More and more of our people are having first- or second-hand encounters with the virus, and it’s only a matter of time before we see it in our church.
I know this will be a major discouragement to those who’ve been able to join us in person on Sunday mornings. During this time of separation, though, I hope we will be all the more mindful of those brothers and sisters who haven’t been able to join us in person. I trust our family bond will grow even stronger as we endure this time of distancing separate-yet-together.
I pray that we would all take heart, for we’ve been encouraged by promising news about vaccines this week. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. More importantly, though, there is an infinitely brighter Light to which we all look forward—a Light that depends not on the technical skill of man but the gracious will of our triune God. This Light has already come in the first Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it will shine for all eternity when He comes again in glory.
May our momentary darkness remind us that this is what Christmas is all about.
How to Participate this Weekend:
Join Pastor Casey from his home for this engaging conversation about the most fascinating (and often hard to understand) sayings of Jesus. As we are pausing Sunday services, Sunday School will be meeting only online at 9:30-10:15 AM. You can participate by joining Casey via Zoom (click here) or watching the conversation on YouTube (click here).
For those of you who’ve been joining us online, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. For those who’ve been coming to the church, click here to access our online worship guide. At the bottom of that page, you’ll find a link to the live-stream on YouTube. In case you miss us live, the stream will be available for viewing at that link any time after 10:30 AM on Sunday.
Please pay close attention to the guide, as it contains names we’ll be voting on for the Pastoral Search Committee, Elder Board, and Finance Committee.
Operation Christmas Child
If you’ve filled up a shoebox, please drop your box off at the church on Sunday before noon. We recognize this isn’t ideal and apologize for any inconvenience it may cause you. If you haven’t yet filled up your box, doing it online is a great option. Click here for more information.