Weekly Update - April 30
Church family, allow me to express my gratitude to God and to you for the way you have been responding and serving each other in ministry over the last number of weeks. Our quarantine has yielded specific needs as well as detailed responses from you. It is marvelous to watch the body coming alongside to aide one another in trusting Christ and seeing needs met in a Christ-centered manner. I wish I could relay to you much of what I have been hearing and seeing. Rest assured, the Lord knows and I can’t help but think he is pleased with your heart and service. I thank God for you.
As we originally planned the preaching schedule for the year, next week and the week after were to be weeks where I and some of our members were going to be in Central Asia. With recent events cancelling that trip, the elders determined to continue with the planned schedule. With that, Dawson Bryant will be leading us in the study of God’s word this week, focusing our attention in Luke 11 and the application of Scripture to our prayer life. This is a consequential time for us to make the most of deepening our prayer life. I am looking forward to this time in God’s word and what it will yield across our congregation as we fervently pursue the Lord in dependent and faithful prayer. We will return to our study of Hebrews 7, three Sunday’s from now, and then look to launch back into our continued series in the book of Genesis for the summer months.
I know that this subject is on almost everyone’s mind. It is certainly the talk of TV news. And it is definitely an ongoing conversation among the elders and ministry staff. As parts of our region begin to re-open to the public next week, and the shelter-in-place order expires for our county in two weeks, when are we planning to meet again as a congregation? I wish I had a solid answer for that; but I do not. City, county, regional, and state governing entities are beginning to roll-out guidelines for re-opening society and we are paying close attention to them. From the latest communication we are seeing, it is difficult to imagine that we will be regathering in the month of May. Of course, that could quickly change if local authorities change course, but at present, limitations to gatherings of no more than 10 are being communicated for the weeks following the conclusion of the May 15 shelter-in-place order. With that, we are looking for ways to mirror the slow roll-out of re-gathering, perhaps beginning with Growth Groups meeting together. As we learn more, we will communicate more detailed plans about our own regathering.
WHAT TO EXPECT
What should we expect when we do assemble again? Whatever it does look like, I am certain it will look and feel a bit different than the last time we all met together. Personal contact will be different, seating will need to adjust, collecting the offering will look different, distributing the elements of the Lord’s Table will change, and even what we can initially offer in childcare will be significantly different.
What does this mean? It means we all have to be patient. Patient with each other, our leaders within the church and within our society. I am certain that some in our congregation will not, and more than likely should not, return immediately due to health concerns. Parents with young children may choose to delay gathering with large groups for a time. Some may expect everyone who is present to be ready for a hug. Some will be hesitant to even shake a hand. Again, when we do begin to meet together again, we will need to exercise a humble and non-judgmental attitude toward those whose initial convictions and comforts are different than ours.
All of this will provide a perfect opportunity for us to show the sweet smelling aroma of the knowledge of Christ as society begins to emerge from the implements of the present quarantine.
Second Corinthians 2:14-15 are verses I have been using today to pray for us as a church family. Consider these words prayerfully, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
God is displaying through us, in every place we find ourselves, the sweet aroma of what it means to know Christ. The very thought of this should cause us to carefully consider our internal and external responses to the details of the quarantine and the expectations of our society re-opening. What we express needs to be the sweetness of knowing Christ, not merely our own personal convictions about any given situation. Let’s make sure that believers and unbelievers alike are seeing and experiencing from us the beauty of knowing our savior. That would mean a contented, joyful, confident, steadying trust in the goodness of God in regard to all that is going on around and within us. I am praying we all are good manifestations of God’s goodness, even as the stresses coming from the effects of this virus continue to impact us in ways we wish were otherwise. Christ needs to be seen and valued because of us during these days. May God show his glory in our responses together.