MIDWEEK MESSAGE 8
Seriously? Week 8? ONLY week #8? Actually, no. It is week #9. I started this midweek message one week after the lockdown started. And I know, I know. Your week is incomplete until you open your email or see on FB or the church website that Pastor Bill has just written another Midweek Message. I know it makes your world brighter and you just so look forward to getting this message. You don’t have to tell me how it changes your whole week. Okay…so you can tell me. 🙂 In all seriousness, does it not seem like forever since we did things normally?
Yeah…that word normal. What is that? From every indication I have seen and from everything I have read in blogs and listened to on podcasts “normal” is gone. We are about to enter the Twilight Zone. Oops sorry, got carried away with my own attempt at humor. I’ve had several folks say to me, “I just can’t wait to get back to the way things used to be.” I hate to be the harbinger of bad news to them and to you (if you have said or thought that), but things will not get back to the way they used to be. We will have to settle in for what is being a “New Normal.” Read those words again: NEW. NORMAL. Things will never be the same for anything-economically, financially, business, and most certainly, the church.
I remember reading once about a young man who was being introduced to a congregation. The search team had done their due diligence and felt they had finally found the young man who was going to move the church forward. On the night he was being introduced he stood up to speak and said, “I’m excited about coming to First Church and taking it into the 20th century.” The head of the search team whispered, “Don’t you mean 21st century?” To which the young man answered, “Let’s not rush things. One century at a time.”
Many churches are stuck in the past. They want to do things the way they used to. It has been said the seven last words of the church are “We never did it that way before.” Well, I think it is safe to say that those churches who stayed there, will not make it. Down the road they will be irrelevant or even extinct. We have to admit things have radically changed. In many ways. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was not prepared. I was not anticipating a lockdown. No gathering on Sunday. A major overhaul on ministry. But it happened. We (OVCF) had to go into catch-up mode. Thanks to Tami (yes, my daughter) our services were streamed to FB and each week it got better. There were (and still are) glitches but I am so proud of her for stepping up. She even came around her parents those weeks (but we weren’t allowed to hug her). 🙁 Then someone donated the money needed for us to step up our game to put out a clearer and sharper “product.” Thanks to that donation; Ryan’s hard work; and Joe Pavich’s willingness to volunteer and take that ministry under his wing, we are making great progress. We have not arrived yet, but we are well under way. And for those who have wondered, the livestream will continue even after we are able to meet together. We have heard of so many who have benefited from the livestream that we simply cannot stop now.
You probably know by now that May 31st will be our first attempt to be back together. We will do it with some restrictions (see the FB page for that list or the church’s website). The caveat to that is unless Governor Holcomb says we go back to lockdown. Ryan and I will be taking a different approach that morning. It will be very laid back and we want you to come with an anticipation of gathering, but also with an excitement of what is coming down the pike. The next week, June 7th, I’ll be starting a series called Promises, Promises. The sermon that Sunday will be “The Wisdom to Find the Right Page.” I am totally convinced God has got this. He was not surprised by this Covid thing. Nor has He ever been sitting on His throne cracking his knuckles or biting his nails in nervousness over the events and being caught unaware. I am convinced His promises are true and will stand the test of anything that comes up.
When you get here on the 31st EXPECT CHANGES. Most of those changes will be in the way we approach each other; communion (you will get your own as you enter) and offering; seating; and greeting each other. What will NOT change is that friendliness will depend on each one of us; the warmth we want to be known for will not be determined by masks and gloves (if you choose to wear them); the music will still need your participation; and the Word will still be preached. Keep in mind worship is from the heart and should not be determined by outward influences. Again…please let me ask you to go to the church’s website or our FB page for our reopening plans. Please familiarize yourself with them.
Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us God is faithful and His mercies are new every morning. Don’t rely on the past; look to the future and see what God will and is going to do. I’m excited about it!! Thanks for letting me visit with you. Have a great week. See you Sunday (virtually).