Dear friends,

May the peace of Christ be with you in this troubling time.

This coming Sunday I would encourage you where possible to worship with your church family online. By entering “Facebook Parsippany United Methodist Church” in your search engine you should be able to find the live stream at 10 a.m. on Sunday, and in the course of the live stream you can type out specific prayer concerns that I will be able to raise up during worship. Our choir rehearsed an anthem Thursday evening, and they will be on hand to sing their anthem and lead us in hymn singing.

What I am saying is that apart from the choir I would prefer that people stay home on Sunday. As I have said before, panic is not helpful. We are called to trust God come what may.

We have the responsibility to care for those who are most vulnerable among us, which means acknowledging that we are dealing with a public health crisis the likes of which we have not seen since the “Spanish Flu” of 1919. Although 80% of people who get infected will experience manageable symptoms, others — particularly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems – will get seriously ill and possibly lose their lives should they get infected. The fact that there are only 31 identified cases in New Jersey as I type this can be misleading. Health experts tell us that “social distancing” is critically important at this time so that we don’t experience a surge in the numbers of those who are infected that results in our health care system being overwhelmed – specifically, that there will be a shortage of bed in intensive care units for all the people who need them.

In the meantime, let us find ways to express care for one another with phone calls, especially those who live alone and those who will experience a loss of income that poses a threat to their lives.

It could be a while before we can safely gather together physically for worship, so I would appreciate people taking the time to learn how to tune into “Facebook Live.” In the coming week, I will be working with the leadership of our church to organize ways for us to stay connected and express care during this time of required physical isolation.

If you have a need that I or your church family can help you with at this uncertain time, please let me know. Let us all be in prayer for one another and for the world at large.

Grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Pastor Jeff