Dear UVA Cru community,
As most of you know by now, yesterday president Jim Ryan announced that in response to the coronavirus, UVA will begin online classes next week for the foreseeable future. In light of this announcement, we wanted to communicate a few things.
1. As a student registered CIO at UVA, we are committed to following the university’s leadership to the best of our ability. The administration is doing its best to promote the public health and general welfare of our community and we will abide by its policies.
2. We are still committed to caring for you and fulfilling our mission in Charlottesville and beyond. Though many of you might be away from UVA for some time, we still want to provide opportunities for fellowship and spiritual growth. We are still figuring out what this looks like and will be updating you along the way. Whether you are returning home or staying in Charlottesville, we hope to continue to be a source of community and encouragement for you.
We encourage those of you returning home to consider how you might serve your local church as they discern how to best serve your community. The local church is best equipped for worship, fellowship, and outreach, especially in situations like this.
3. If you are in need during this time, or know someone who is, please let us know. In our own community, we will be discerning how to best partner with local churches to meet the needs of others, including students who may not be able to return home.
4. Jesus is our Prince of Peace, Great High Priest, and the hope of the world.
Throughout history, the church has been a city on a hill in times of difficulty and uncertainty. In the second century, a plague spread throughout the Roman Empire. Many, especially the powerful and wealthy, chose to escape from the cities to the countryside to avoid getting infected. But instead of escaping and isolating themselves, Christians chose to stay behind, love their neighbors, and care for those who were suffering.
Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria commented on the faithfulness of Christians as those who extended the sacrificial love and mercy of Christ in such a time.
“Most of our Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves, and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains.”
Friends, this is our calling. Though the coronavirus is much milder than what these second century Christians experienced, we are still called to follow their example in living in faith, not by fear.
We do this not out of an abstract secular commitment to altruism, but because of a living hope in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. This hope in Christ brings us comfort and peace that is not of this world. It is for this reason that the apostle Peter wrote these words to a persecuted, suffering minority in the first century.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:3-7).
In times of anxiety and uncertainty, the resurrection of Jesus reminds us of what is most true about us — that we are radically secure in Him. We belong to him as his sons and daughters through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. This security brings us profound comfort. Nashville pastor Scott Sauls puts it well: “Our long term worst-case scenario, according to Scripture, is resurrection from the dead and everlasting life. With this future having been secured for us at the cost of Jesus’ life, we are now free to serve others, even at the potential risk of our own.”
This security in Christ simultaneously comforts us and propels us out into mission. As those who are radically secure, we can afford to live lives of gospel witness and sacrificial love. As your staff team, we are always trying our best to equip you to live out your faith and share the gospel with others. In many ways, this moment is a wonderful opportunity to ask God to use you to bring the light and love of Christ to others.
On a practical note, keep your eyes open for how you can be meeting the needs of others. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to share the peace and hope that is within you. Take every opportunity to ask those around you: “How can I be praying for you?” Be open and available to what God might do through you.
We will continue to keep you updated in the days ahead. We’re here for you. We’re praying for you. We love you. Please reach out if you have any questions and let us know how we can serve you.
We are with you together in Christ,
The Cville Cru Staff Team