Because our youth currently are not meeting in person, Greg King, our church’s youth leader, has initiated a really great ministry with our youth using a platform called “Slack.” What he’s doing is taking a topic – say, “salvation” – and having a 10-15 minute videoed conversation about the topic with another person in our church. The video gets posted, the youth and parents watch it at their convenience, and then make comments, have discussion, etc. This is a big change from what we’re used to, but nevertheless, we’re learning, and interacting, in ways that are faithful and life giving.
In one of the videos that Greg led, a scripture was brought up that I love: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) It’s a comfort to know that in this ever-changing world, Jesus – who He is, and what He has done, is doing, and will do – remains the same. He is the one element of life, in fact, that we can count on.
The scripture also reminds me that nothing else remains the same. You and I are always changing (even though some of us are more stuck in our ways than others!), and the circumstances of life are always changing. Case in point: since last March, as a result of the upheaval of our society caused by covid, our church (and many other churches) has had to make choices about how to respond, and for the most part these responses have meant “change.” By the end of March last year, our building was closed, and we were bringing worship to you on-line through various pre-recorded elements of worship. For the first time ever, we didn’t gather together on Easter morning. In early June, we began to meet outdoors – at 7 am so as to beat the heat. We were wearing masks, and spreading our chairs out. There were far fewer of us in person than before, but we began offering an on-line livestream worship. In August, keeping the outdoor service, we added an indoor service, and later in the fall as the weather cooled, we moved the outdoor service to a later time. By December we moved both services indoors, at 9 am and 10:30 am, with a continued on-line presence. That’s where we are currently. Whew! That’s a lot of changes in one year, and a lot of adaptation by our staff and by you.
Before getting to our next adaptation, I want to echo the words of Paul to the Philippians: I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6). You all are a blessing!
OK, so what’s next? So far, all of our indoor services have been “mask mandatory.” Starting on Sunday, April 11, we will continue to have our 9 am service be “mask mandatory,” but will make our 10:30 am service “mask optional.” We are doing this as covid cases are decreasing and vaccinations are increasing. We are doing this because each of us have different views about masks, and our life circumstances differ. We are doing this because our primary objective is to share the gospel, and by offering options – “mask optional”, “mask mandatory,” or “stay home and participate on-line” – we can cover more bases and reach more people. As Paul once told the Romans, concerning a different issue but nevertheless with current-day application: … let us not pass judgment on one another…, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:13)
We will continue to emphasize, at both services: social distancing (keeping in mind that not everyone wants to shake hands or hug), good hygiene (hand washing always has and always will help), and personal responsibility (please stay home if you are not feeling well). I realize this may not fit everyone’s idea of what we ought to be doing, but I do pray that we continue to be gracious with one another, and faithful to the One who is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Pastor Dave Hedgepeth