September-October 2020 Letter from Bill Hall
October 01, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
It is hard to believe as we enter the fall season that it has been 6 months since we moved regular in-person church services to an online platform.
I don’t know about you, but I am surprised by the diversity of voices that give advice on how to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Sometimes it can get quite confusing.
Some say that we need to continue to be careful and apply recommended procedures in preventing the spread of the disease (social distancing, wearing a mask in public, etc.). Others say that the COVID-19 crisis is not a crisis at all, instead COVID-19 is no worse than the flu and the restrictions being promoted by governments and health officials are just a way to take our individual freedoms away.
A few weeks ago, when speaking during our local Sunday ZOOM church service I used the following story:
An Unspoken Bible
His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian recently while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative congregation. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and, when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behaviour at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!)
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, an Elder is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the Elder is in his eighties, has silver gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can't blame him for what he's going to do.
How can you expect a man of his age and background to understand some college kid on the floor? It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane.
All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the Elder does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone.
Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control, he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read."
(Source: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition: The Chicken Soup for the Soul Stories that Changed Your Lives Paperback – June 25, 2013 by Jack Canfield)
Recently I was listening to a lecture by the British Trinitarian theologian, James Torrance. He was speaking about the history of individualism in the Church and was bemoaning the fact that in the Western world, we have lost the sense of the Trinitarian aspect of community in the Church and our dealings with those around us. He coined the phrase, “responsible liberty” when looking at this subject.
That phrase struck a note with me. Somewhere in the myriad of voices I think we as a society and as Christians have forgotten Jesus’ second greatest commandment about loving our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39) when expressing our individual freedoms.
I want to again thank you for your continued prayerful and financial support during these difficult times. Your donations have enabled us to continue to operate local congregations, even if it is at a distance.