January 26, 2020 was the first Sunday after the Lunar New Year. For many believers, that Sunday service was a little special.
During the past Spring Festival holidays, churches in many places held New Year's party, New Year's Eve prayer meeting or New Year's Eve party. This year, because of the impact of the new coronavirus-induced pneumonia, many parts of the country's Spring Festival parties and Sunday worships have been temporarily canceled.
Despite this, the churches have adopted live-streams via the Internet, recorded audio, family worship processes to instruct believers to meditate, pray for the epidemic and pray for the New Year.
The Wuhan Christian Thanksgiving Church, located in the hard-hit area of the epidemic, released a service outline for January 26 on its WeChat public platform, quoting the scriptures of Genesis 18:16-33, entitled "The Model of Prayer."
Part of the statements: "When God told Abraham about the pending destruction of Sodom, Abraham prayed six times for the city of Sodom. In the prayer, the number of righteous people in the city required to avert destruction was reduced from 50 to 10, which is a model of the churches' prayer today."
The main part of the sermon speaks of the situation of Sodom, the burden of Abraham, and Abraham's prayer concern; mentioning three aspects of an attitude to prayers: humility, persistence, and justification (God's sovereignty first).
"May we all adopt the Abrahamian prayer model to seek peace for Wuhan, and let the city be healed", the closing remarks of the sermon outline reads.
Beijing Fengtai Church had a live webcast to do Sunday worship; Pastor Zhang Yanqin quoted Psalms 91 and titled the sermon "Living in the Lord". "Although my physical eyes can't see my brothers and sisters, the eyes of my soul know that you are all with us, and that we worship together on the Internet", she said at the beginning of the sermon. Although online worship is used for circumstantial reasons, nothing can stop us if "we worship God with our hearts and honesty."
Qingdao Nanqu Church also tweeted to remind the congregation that church premises were not open, and asked the congregation to stay at home for online Sunday worship.
The WeChat public platform of Haidian Church in Beijing also released the audio recording and text of Pastor Wu Weiqing's Sunday message on January 26. Pastor Wu cited verses from Malachi 4:5-6, and titled the sermon "Abundant Mercy."
"What can we do in the face of the sudden plague as a Beijing Church? What should be done? We begin by offering our prayers of confession to the Lord by asking the Lord to have mercy on us and bring this outbreak to an early end. Secondly, we should offer prayers for the health care workers who are struggling on the front lines and pray for patients who have been diagnosed and suspected", said Pastor Wu at the beginning of the sermon.
He focused on two aspects: first, to pray for God's kingdom and righteousness; second, to pray for the guilt of the nation and the people; third, to pray for the church's holiness and perfection; and fourth, to pray for the relationship between man and God.
"This Spring Festival is a time for Christians to pray, a time for spirituality, a time to comfort each other through modern communication and to strengthen each other's faith. Let us pray for the whole city as Abraham did, as King Solomon did for his people and like Phinehas did for his plagued people", Pastor Wu shared.
Beijing Tongzhou Church, Shanghai Wuyu Evangelical Church, Qingxin Church, Zhusholy Church, Huai'an City Christian Church, Nanjing St. Paul's Church, Harbin City Burtley Church, Chongqing Christian Church, Zhenjiang City Christian Church, Xiamen Zengyi Christian Church, Zhuhai City Christian Meihua Church, etc. all used WeChat platforms on January 26 to give Sunday service messages (video, audio, text, outline), and some also attached information about protection from infection.
Hangzhou Sicheng Church released a sermon titled "Family prayer invitation" as its Sunday message, in addition to the sermon, the WeChat information also detailed the process of family worship, including: silent prayer, singing, litany recitation as one, Bible reading, sermon sharing, and finally ending with the Lord's Prayer.
Jinan City Christian Changchunli Church issued Pastor Wang Sanyuan's audio recording "Grace upon grace", and in the WeChat article attached a family worship process, suggested that the family set a holy worship time, and try to gather the whole family.
- Translated by Charlie Li