Addendum to the WHC Response Plan as of 3/17/20
- The restrictions in this plan will remain active until further notice
- The WHC Session will review these restrictions on a monthly basis and will communicate changes by the fourth Monday of the Month
Restricted Activity at WHC Facility
- All events and meetings (except funerals and weddings) will move to an online / phone basis or will be canceled until WHC receives further direction from the DCHD, the CDC, or another governmental agency.
- Funerals and weddings will not exceed 9 participants
- Only essential business will take place at the WHC facility
- Only essential staff (and designated volunteers) will be admitted into the building
- Key card access for Members and FoF will be suspended
- Will observe social distancing recommendations including:
- Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
- Maintaining 6 feet of separation in all circumstances, including live meetings
- Avoiding entering one another’s office space
- Meeting virtually when possible
WHC Activity Away from the WHC Facility
- Any gatherings coordinated by WHC should take place virtually or over the phone
- If essential church business must take place in a home or public place, the gathering may not exceed 9 participants
- Relational and pastoral care should take place virtually or over the phone. Church staff or volunteers should not visit hospitals or care facilities
- If local or federal government agencies further restrict social interaction, the Session will close the church to everyone except essential maintenance staff
To view the complete plan with addendum click here: WHC Response Plan with 3-17-20 Addendum
March 15, 2020 at 3:29 p.m.
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An Encouragement to the Saints
March 15, 2020 at 3:09 p.m.
Canceling our worship services was a hard decision for our leadership to make. I think we made the right choice, but I’m surprised by how much I missed meeting together this morning. As I reflected on what worship means, I decided to send out a word of encouragement to our church family. Of course, much could be said about the turmoil many of us have been experiencing. Even more could be said in consideration of how we can live out our faith in this present moment; we follow an incarnational God, and we are to be an incarnational people. This morning however, my heart keeps drifting back to worship – back to what we missed by not gathering this morning. Somehow, in my mind, these thoughts became intertwined with the prophecies of Isaiah 55.
Consider the flow of our gathered worship. We approach our gatherings from different directions, different life stages, different circumstances, even different levels of anticipation or lack thereof. We smile and share greetings - maybe a few short conversations. We grip hands and shoulders. Simple words and actions that sometimes echo a deeper truth. We are being reminded that we are a community of saints – that because of Jesus, we all belong here.
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
We are called into worship. Suddenly we are invited to connect with the Creator of all things. We are hustled into the throne room of the King. It can feel a bit jarring, but there we are, reciting the King’s accomplishments. We sing God’s goodness; we remind ourselves. Of course, in the midst of all this majesty we can feel increasingly grubby and out of place. In the grandeur of the throne room our ingratitude and willfulness begin to smell a lot like rebellion.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
One of the saints helps us put words to our weakness. We find ourselves on our knees at the base of the throne. We reach to touch the foot of the King. Again, a sister or brother speaks the King’s words to us. We feel a hand on our shoulder. The hand of the King pulling us to our feet and into an embrace. We are restored. We celebrate.
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Do we ever feel more like brothers and sisters than when we gather for adoration, confession, assurance, and celebration? What can be more familiarizing than sharing our common brokenness, and finding God’s forgiveness in one another’s eyes? So, we sing. The music sparks our emotions to flame. We join our voices to the saints from throughout the ages. And we bring our newfound openness to the Word. God’s Word, that ancient water, somehow still holds life. It permeates the soil of our hearts and minds. The slow but unrelenting power seeps even into land hard packed by untruths.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s word soaks us, and life emerges. Sometimes slowly over years. Sometimes surprisingly - just when it seems that life beneath the surface is only inert matter, the decay shifts. In the water of the Word and the warmth of the Spirit, new life sprouts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
So, we sing. With our hearts and voices linked we find ourselves primed for action and willing to offer gifts of thankfulness. We sense calls to mission and new submission. Our hearts and feet are drawn to new paths and to old roads we want to travel in better ways. Before we head out, we put words to the heights of God’s goodness, and we share the heaviness of this broken world. We lean into our Creator and Savior once again as we prepare to leave the community.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
We pause on our way to the doors. Our words and hearts have been freed by our common experience. We all feel the pull to linger - whether we only slow for a quick greeting, or drink deeply from the well of community. Slowly over the next hour the building is emptied. The church, the saints, have left.
I consider all this as I reflect this morning on our empty building. I missed being together today. Of course, I know that we will worship together again. And in the meantime, we will find new and interesting ways to gather the saints. For today though, it seems appropriate to reminisce a bit, perhaps even to grieve. As we do so, we remember that our God has no difficulty meeting each of us where we are. Our King is honored as we praise his power and goodness while looking out of our bedroom windows. In our separation Jesus’ blood remains powerful and effective for our forgetfulness and our failures. God’s Word draws us to new life whether we read it in a pew or a kitchen chair. And we are still linked with the saints throughout the ages when we sing in our hearts or in our living rooms. We remain saints, even if we can’t reach each other’s hands.
March 14, 2020 at 6:33 p.m.
Dear West Hills Community,
Your Session has been hard at work creating our response to the Coronavirus. The attached Response Plan clarifies our path forward, and I encourage you all to read it. Please direct your questions to , and our staff and volunteers will do our best to address them quickly. As a part of our deliberations we have canceled worship and all activities for tomorrow, Sunday 3/15. Many in our church family are at high risk for critical complications associated with the Coronavirus, and we are all being encouraged to do our part to reduce its spread. For now, it seems that the best way we can show our love and care for one another is to take a break from being together.
Of course, this is a rapidly changing situation. We will maintain communication with local and federal agencies as we continue on our journey with the living Christ. We will continue to communicate via email, our website https://www.whcomaha.org/, our Facebook page @westhillschurchomaha, and even phone and ‘snail’ mail! At this point we’ve only canceled this Sunday’s activities. Going forward, it’s likely that our ministry will be a mix of ‘business as usual’ and creative new approaches to discipleship, community, and mission. In the midst of all this confusion and stress, I find it deeply encouraging to remember that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Our circumstances may require us to shift how we engage in ministry, but nothing changes the power and love of our God.
I hope these words find you well, and that we will be in contact with one another soon.
Yours in the strong name of Jesus,
See response plan here: WHC Response Plan