To the Cornerstone Members, Attenders and Friends,
Johns Hopkins University provides a real-time data base for the Coronavirus pandemic. It would be fascinating if it wasn't so discouraging. And while I am not one to stick my head in the sand, I also want you to know that in a world faced with the real-time threat and impact of Covid-19, there are other things, that are good to think about, in the midst of this new reality. So, in addition to the weekly, Wednesday blog, I am going to start a Saturday summary for a bit. I will organize it around 2 points: 1) Things to consider and 2) Things to consider doing.
Things to Consider
Consider what is taking place in our church family! And yes, that exclamation mark ought to be there. In this past week, so many of you have been checking on one another, praying for one another, and volunteering to help one another. One lady in my Member Care Group told me that she has a goal of calling 5 people from the church, every day. Another told me about a neighbor who is fearful and we came up with a plan to help this man out. Guys have started a wonderful video devotional from the Psalms that is being viewed by SO many of you. When we started this, I thought that if 100 of you would benefit from this, then that would be wonderful. But, your response to this has really been encouraging. Thanks to the guys who are doing this and thanks to you who are watching this.
I started a Wednesday PM live-stream study on the doctrine of the Trinity that I plan to continue for as long as is necessary. I am not recording this and posting, but like Sunday morning, doing it live in order to allow us to maintain a wee bit of normal in the midst of a lot of un-normal.
We are also considering some additional things, such as a Bible skit challenge for families. Chad will be rolling this out this week, but we think it would be a great thing for families to re-enact a story from the Bible, record it, then post it for a panel of esteemed judges to do our version of the Oscars and post the winners for the church. Perhaps the winning family will get some toilet paper.
We also sent out a church-wide membership survey with 3 questions: 1) Do you have a specific need? 2) Do you know a member with a specific need? 3) Are you willing to help meet a specific need? We will probably send this out weekly in order to make sure that we don't miss anything.
Tomorrow, your ABF may be on-line 9.30-10.30. If so, you will be notified about that. We will live-stream Sunday morning again. There is an on-line bulletin for you to follow with links to 2 songs to play and sing along to starting at 10.30a. The Live-stream will begin at 10.45. While I am grateful for this technology, it is no substitute for the church.
These adjustments are helpful in many ways as we try to care for one another and grow through this. At the same time, it feels like I am holding my breath underwater. You know what I mean, don't you? The longer you hold your breath, the more desperate you are to breathe. We are only a few days into what could be a long hibernation and already I feel as if my church lungs are on fire and desperate to breathe. I cannot wait for us to gather again, but in the mean time, we will press on.
There are a couple of more things to consider. In the research for a vaccination, the call went out for people who were willing to be deliberately infected who could be live test cases. The response has been enormous. Isn't that wonderful? There are people who are willing to be deliberately infected in order to help develop a cure. Of course that reminds us of the gospel. Jesus became one of us so that he could be deliberately infected with all of our sin in our place. Jesus did this, not in hopes of finding a cure, but in full-knowledge that his payment would secure once and for all our pardon. Covid-19 is affecting thousands, but sin affects billions. Most people are surviving Covid-19 without a vaccination, but no one survives the death sentence of sin, without Jesus. But, everyone who trusts in Christ is 100% forgiven, forever!
Right now, Italy is getting slammed with the disease. The Vatican announced that the church (the Roman Catholic Church) is granting forgiveness under certain conditions for those affected by the Coronavirus. Some of the conditions are: saying a certain number of prayers and (if you are praying for the well being of caregivers) reading the Bible for at least half an hour. How sad and misleading! Forgiveness has been secured by what Christ has already accomplished! Praying for caregivers is good and wonderful because we love them and care for them. Reading our Bibles is like breathing to us. These are not to be done in order to earn forgiveness. Forgiveness has already been earned by Christ. "By GRACE you have been saved" Ephesians 2 tells us. Which brings me to the 2nd point.
Things to Consider Doing
Federal and State leaders may impose stricter measures. I do believe our governor when she says that she doesn't want to do this and doesn't plan to do so, but she may be put into a position where she believes that she has to. Right now, we are all trying to adjust to this, when the "this" keeps changing. It is a lot to get our arms around at the moment. But, remember, we do this standing on the Rock. We are adjusting to this while safe in the fold. We are IN Christ and that is forever. You have neighbors and friends and family members who do not have that assurance.
This past week, we as a church have focused largely on making sure that we are caring well for one another, and we will continue to do this. Now, we need to widen the lens of our vision and ask the Lord how we can care well for those around us. How can we look for ways to share the hope that we have in Christ and how they can have it to. Here is one suggestion from our home. Bake bread.
Cathi is attaching a recipe for "No Knead" Bread that you can do in your kitchen. Cathi got this recipe from one of our members (Darlene Kirsten) - thanks Darlene! Consider the benefits: You won't run out of bread. It is good. If you have kids at home, they may learn to do this with you. And, (this is the best part) you can make loaf for a neighbor, put it in a bag with a note that says, "I'm praying for you." We did a trial run this week and it worked great!! If you do this, please let me know so I can encourage others. Also, let me know of other things you are doing for your neighbors during this time.
I love you Cornerstone, and pray for you. Let's help one another love and look like Jesus even as we help one another get home before it's dark.
Grace and Peace,
Bread recipe link