Note from Tim 2020-07-11

Here are some thoughts and good news in the midst of the corona madness… Many of us are struggling with being constrained into painful adjustments and losses from this relentless, obstinate pandemic. Our schools, teachers, administrators, business, medical, and government leaders and employees are under siege with major decisions and modifications in a constantly changing environment and divided culture. These adjustments, losses, decisions, and modifications—especially relating to worship—are imposed on the church as well. It’s a test for us. Can we, with all of our widely divergent experiences and opinions, work and worship together with love, grace, and unity? And while there is a temptation to default into a comfortable float down the easy river that revolves around self, family, and a few friends, will we value Jesus and his mission enough to get vitally connected to our church family, spiritually grow, and find ways to reach out to those in need? Are we willing to make adjustments when the corporate worship and kids’ ministries that we so enjoyed are radically altered or disengaged?
 
Every week, our staff and leaders are evaluating and making ministry adjustments—especially relating to corporate worship. Conditions and orders are constantly changing; but at this point, next week Sunday, July 19, we will offer the opportunity of an in-person, indoors, worship gathering. That’s encouraging progress! This will certainly require taking many precautions to make it as safe as possible and so the phase-in team, staff, and others are working on the preparation and communication which will be coming your way next week. As we noted earlier, we will continue to provide the opportunity to join us online with a livestream beginning at 9am. And this Sunday, since many of us are away, we will only do the online worship—as we did last week. And then we will continue to evaluate and make adjustments along the way.
 
Corporate worship is always packed with wide-ranging perspectives and emotions and we will work to provide an opportunity for as many as possible to meaningfully participate. But, there is also a temptation to treat the weekly corporate worship event like a Meijer one-stop-for-everything, what-will-you-provide-for-me, shopping experience. When our covid-altered versions of worship perhaps don’t “produce” the “Meijer” experience like they used to, it’s vital to remember that the center of “worth-ship” is declaring his worth by hearing and responding to his Word through singing, giving, and a Jesus-centered living that permeates our lives every day! The Life Groups and fellowship with other believers around the Word and prayer are more vital than ever. The author of Hebrews makes it clear, in response to the gospel, that we are to “…consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:24–25).
 
The urgency toward our vision of discipleship and Organic Outreach is intensified as God uses the pandemic to get us weaned from the “Meijer” worship experience. And so I strongly encourage you to connect with Mike Fisk if you are not involved in a Life Group. And the Prayer Partners ministry is a great way to safely connect with brothers and sisters in Christ to pray and listen to each other’s hearts as we cry out to God. Try it! And it’s really OK to join in quietly—without praying out loud. Please respond to elders and deacons as they take up their work of calling and connecting with you. Let us know how you are really doing. And let us all take up our role of calling, connecting with and “encouraging one another.” We do this for our Savior who provides us with the ultimate encouragement through his sacrifice. He suffered the ultimate restlessness and alienation so that we can know peace and fellowship with our Father AND share that peace with others.
 
I look forward to our times together. You can probably tell that when we gather together, I get excited and more animated—it’s just a delight to be together for his glory.
 
Pastor Tim