We know the church is not a building. We want to encourage our church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their homes and community. Many people drive by our building in Scarborough, Ontario and say, “That is Malvern Christian Assembly”, however we are so much more than a building. The Reach Out pastor, Mark Devanathan reminded the church through video that just because we physically can’t gather right now as we have in the past doesn’t mean we stop having church. Those who have attended the physical building, our body of believers, make up the church. In Scripture we are reminded of the greatest commandment, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’”. (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)
With this in mind, the #WashHandsWashFeet campaign was launched for those who call Malvern Christian Assembly and their church plants ‘home’. The campaign was two-fold. In light of COVID-19, we are reminded by health officials that one of the best ways to reduce the spread of infection is to be vigilant about hand washing. The second part of the campaign is to wash feet. Now we don’t mean this literally but more as a figure of speech. We need to be about serving others. When we look at the life of Christ, we can see He portrayed the ultimate picture of service to those around Him.
Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”. (John 13:3-5; 12-17, NIV)
Jesus gave us the powerful example of what it meant to serve others as He served His disciples. We should seek out opportunities to serve others all the time, not just when times are challenging. However, it is in times of crisis when it seems like those ‘outside’ the church tend to focus on how Christians and The Church are responding.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
We know God will use many things to get peoples’ attention. Through COVID-19 many people are looking for answers, peace and hope. People beyond the doors of the church are watching and waiting and it so important to respond in a way that reflects the love of God. This pandemic is bringing many vulnerabilities to the surface in the lives of people around the globe. This reality presents a wonderful opportunity for Christians to seek the Holy Spirit for guidance and the proper response to the cries and needs around us with the truth and love of Jesus. We need to amplify the message to our ‘skeptical’ world that Christians are different. Whether it be buying groceries, preparing meals, or being a listening ear, Christians are demonstrating compassion and kindness to people who may think otherwise.
Knowing how our seniors are really isolated at this time, we are encouraging those in our church congregation to connect with one or two of them and see how they can be of service to them, thus being the feet of Christ. Let us encourage you to check in with your friends from your workplace who have been feeling anxious and unsure. Take some time to see how they are doing. Social isolation is tough. Encourage them. Sharing the message of Christ with them could be ‘game-changing’!
Pastor Mark encouraged our members to make a deliberate choice to be generous to those around them. Be generous with what you have – your time, energy, resources and your money. As sons and daughters of God, we need to be loving to those around us, just as Jesus has lavished His love on us! We need to make the most of every opportunity we have been given. Several months from now when we look back on this time of isolation how will it look? How do we want to remember it? Did we make the most of our time, talents and treasures? Did we maximize our efforts for kingdom work? Pastor Mark shared, “When I look back, I want my kids to remember how we prayed for our nation, our neighbours and our church. It is so important to model these things to the next generation”. Technology enables us to text, FaceTime, chat, Zoom or email with one another. And, there is always old school ways of connecting via the telephone or a card of encouragement in the mail.
Check out these two encouraging video clips from members of this PAOC church to hear more about how they are making a difference in their community…
Allison and Marva
The Lovatt Family