Updates from the RRC Staff

 
Staff meeting pre-C19 – we were so young and innocent!
Staff meeting now – complete with barking dogs and noisy kids!
Staff Email
 

Note from Tim 2020-06-02

Yay! Soon after I began to compose this letter, the governor’s orders for shelter-in-place have relaxed again. Thanks be to God for the progress! After the work of the phase-in team and consistory last week, and now in light of the most recent governor’s orders, we are evaluating and moving toward a first worship gathering outdoors at RRC—potentially as early as June 14 (weather permitting). When we meet, it won’t be the same as the old, but it will be a great start! More details will be forthcoming as the team will distribute instructions to guide us as we meet. The phase-in team will also soon distribute a survey to get better informed as they continue to develop plans for how to most effectively and safely gather for worship in the weeks and months ahead. Our plans include continuing to provide a video recording of our worship each week.
 
As I noted in Sunday morning’s invitation to prayer, George Floyd’s tragic death and protests and riots are disturbing, disheartening, and grievous. The most common and encouraging responses that I have been hearing and resonating with are “What can I do?” or “How can I be a part of the change?” One of my greatest challenges for knowing how to respond is my inability to understand, empathize, and thus act with love. I need help with multiple blind and not-so-blind spots for my daily repentance and heart work. As I connected with Stephanie Bergman, it was apparent, as a mom of a black son, that these events are especially troubling. And she has been working for some time to become better equipped to understand the struggles that people of color will face. So, I invited her to develop a letter that would share her perspective and some of the resources that have been helpful for her (I apologize as I should have made this clear before her letter was distributed in a RRC email).

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Note from Tim 2020-05-20

Let me provide you with another update for your information and prayers… Our phase-in team met via Zoom again last night to develop a list of recommendations for how we can get back to safely worshiping together in the same place again. And then our consistory will gather via Zoom tomorrow evening to discuss/approve these guidelines. The when and how of our worship gatherings depend on the constantly evolving state/local guidelines and so it’s not yet reasonable for us to project what our first gathering date might be and what it will look like. We will keep you informed as soon as we are able to take a good next step.
 
On this coming Sunday, I will preach on an important topic relating to reopening and all of the struggles and differences that are increasingly evident during these times. At a time when our community/nation would greatly benefit from rallying together, there is division, polarization, and differences around politics, an election, reopening, jobs, the economy, and much more. There is further struggle in the church when some view government authority differently, some are cautious, and others are ready to just meet and get back to the old normal. We will see how 1 Corinthians 8, the gospel, and God’s Word guide us toward “grace for the differences.” I encourage you not to miss this one.

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Note from Emillie 2020-05-09

This Spring is not going according to my plans. Has anyone been feeling this way? We are all experiencing loss in many ways and on my mind recently has been the loss of opportunities in ministry. I had been so encouraged through the Fall and Winter about what God was doing in our church community in focusing on our vision work and especially after the Organic Outreach Workshop. It is natural in difficult circumstances to shut down and stop doing things we had previously been working toward. However, God continues to remind me that his work doesn’t stop because of our situation. Rockford Reformed Church believes in and has invested in equipping members to work toward a lifestyle of outreach. How does outreach look in the face of an uncertainty, being home bound and having limited interaction with others? I have been praying about and wrestling with this notion. How do we turn outward and work toward our goals with Organic Outreach as individuals now?

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Note from Tim 2020-05-06

I will address this in the sermon this coming Sunday, but I believe that this great pause is an opportunity that we should seize for spiritual transformation, his kingdom coming, and particularly that we would increasingly become a people who are characterized by prayer. I am grateful for the faithfulness of so many of you in this way and our Prayer Partners ministry has been a great addition to what we are doing. Tomorrow (Thursday) is the National Day of Prayer (NDP) and we all know that if there was ever a time for the Christ-followers of this nation to rise up to pray, this is it. God’s Word, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, and many other places, guides us toward humbling ourselves, praying, seeking his face, and turning from wicked ways.
 
So I want to encourage you in two ways for this day of prayer. First, pray individually and as a family using the NDP “How to Pray for America” guide provided at this link. The list may be a bit overwhelming and so you might focus on one or two areas/concerns.

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Note from Tim 2020-05-02

It’s spring and it’s beautiful! And we thank God that there’s some melting of the hold that the virus/quarantines have had on us. And so I want to highlight a few things that keep us making progress in life and ministry together during this time.
 
First, as we “gather” tomorrow for worship, we will be adding a couple of new opportunities for fellowship and study. At 11am each Sunday, soon after the 10am “live” worship service, I will be hosting a “Digging Deeper” Zoom gathering with a focus on further understanding and applying the text based on the sermon that we just heard. Zoom allows us to have 5 or 105 of us participating together—on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can ask questions about my sermon and I will ask you all questions so that the gospel is driven deeper and bears fruit in our lives. Laura will provide instructions and a link that will get you connected to us for that time.

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Note from Tim 2020-04-19

It’s been great to have so many join us for worship through the video recordings. In conjunction with the sermons of Easter and today, I want to share a video clip that wonderfully reinforces what I have been teaching. Last Sunday, I noted how Easter means that we get a peek at the last pages of God’s grand story of redemption. The suffering and death that litters our life journey will be swallowed up and overwhelmed by the resurrection. Jesus is making all things new and he is the world’s happy ending.
 
And then in today’s sermon, we saw that Jesus is the truth to which all great stories point and he is the Hero of the grand story of redemption—our story. I noted that in Beauty and the Beast, Jesus can be seen as the beauty whose sacrificial love can transform the beast. Or as I recently watched the movie, Just Mercy, everyone else sees a lawyer who sacrifices and risks his life to save those who are falsely accused and put on death row. But I weep because I see in that story how Jesus was falsely accused and sacrifices his life to make all things right for those who suffer.

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Note from Tim 2020-04-07

Yes, that’s me in the mask—to make a point. What do you think of my homemade haircut (at Ruthie’s salon)?
 
We all know how there is a world-wide scramble to develop and deploy every possible medical, physical, and people resource to find a cure and to care for those who are sick with Covid-19. Imagine, in all of this scrambling, that there was one organization that found a vaccine, used and kept it for themselves, and then they all went on a long vacation while the rest of the world continued to struggle and die. Could that happen?
 
We also know that from the time we are born, everyone is desperately in need of care and the cure for sin and guilt. And through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we and the church have the cure. Could it be that we and the church have comfortably turned inward while the rest of the world continues to struggle and die in their sin? I am certainly guilty of this.

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Note from Tim 2020-04-05

There are many things that I want to communicate with you all every day, but I have been refraining so as not to overwhelm and perhaps diminish the times that I do come to you. So, here are a few things that are important for us at this time…
 
It’s Holy Week and we just considered the significance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem today and now we turn to his suffering and death this week leading into Good Friday, and finally, Easter. Our community Good Friday service has been canceled but our church family will “gather” for worship online at 7 PM on Friday evening. Mike will provide appropriate music, I will record a more informal meditation from my home, and it will lead into a celebration of the Lord’s Supper together.

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Note from Laura 2020-04-01

Hello! As we continue to provide connection and community online, it would be helpful to me to get your feedback. Please take a few minutes to look over these questions, and answer as many or as few as you would like.
 
I’ll start with an easy one:
 
1. Did you receive this? At the very least I would like to know who is not getting email. Those that I don’t hear back from will go on a list for our elders/deacons so they can get a clear picture of who needs to be contacted by phone rather than email.

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Note from Tim 2020-03-28

I’m hiding in my home office so that I don’t get roped into more organizing and cleaning projects ☺ and just want to give you an update on a few things. I recorded the sermon for tomorrow yesterday so that we would have plenty of time to get it posted to our YouTube channel and website by early Sunday morning. Laura was intensely scrambling to upload the sermon video file last week in the context of another new normal of steeply increased use and thus bogging down of the internet and other systems. I also finished the sermon study guide today and want to encourage you to use this for your personal, family and Life Group study efforts. I have been very encouraged with the numbers of those who have been viewing and forwarding the sermons/worship to friends, family and neighbors. I received a phone call from a friend in Iowa yesterday who has been struggling hard through this season and was able to forward last week’s sermon as one way of pointing him to Christ.

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