Pastoral Letter July 3, 2020

Dear Church Family and Friends,

It’s now quiet at the Clay household.  All of our children are gone now, leaving just Amy and me.  Our house is moving towards organization again.  We aren’t finding kitchen utensils in the living room hidden in the living room by our grandson.  We aren’t stepping over baby toys anymore.  But that’s small consolation for Rory being gone.

Amy and I had considered going to the beach at her mom’s house this weekend.  But the latest spike in COVID-19 cases ended up changing those plans.  So, for us, it will be a quiet 4th of July weekend at home.

I went to occupational therapy for my hand for the first time this week.  It turns out that the surgery was a resounding success!  I can already move my thumb more than I could before the surgery.  I can do most of the therapy at home, which was a pleasant surprise!

WORSHIP INSTRUCTIONS

In light of the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide order from the Governor requiring masks indoors where the public gathers, this session requests that you follow the instructions below for worship attendance on this Lord’s Day.

If you choose to attend in person worship, we would ask that you wear masks throughout the entire duration of worship. In addition, we request that for the benefit of others, that you practice social distancing  handwashing, and hand sanitizing diligently.

We also request that you exercise extreme caution in determining whether or not to attend worship in person. If you or any person in your family has heightened risk to contract COVID-19 and become seriously infected, we urge you to stay home and avail yourselves of live stream worship.

We take these steps with extreme reluctance, but we would like for people to have the liberty to attend worship, while maintaining as safe of an environment as possible for our most vulnerable members.

Thank you so much for your willingness to comply with these requests, and your willingness to put the interests of others ahead of your own as we seek to be able to continue to worship together in person.

LIVE STREAM VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

During the COVID-19 pandemic, live streaming our worship services has been perhaps our most effective tool and reaching out to the community and building up the saints in the faith, hope, and love of the gospel of Jesus.

We would really like to continue this ministry.  In order to do so, we need more adult volunteers.

The only requirements are: a good attitude, teachability, and willingness to serve.  The deacons will provide all the training necessary.

If you would like to explore helping out with this ministry, please contact the church office.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

I’m always conflicted about sharing with you what I’m reading.  To begin with, I don’t want anyone to go out and buy a book just because I recommend it, only to find out that it wasn’t quite the book for you.

I also learn much more from reading books by people with whom I disagree, rather than those who may bolster my opinions.  If you are still getting grounded in the faith, or you have items that are truly open questions, I don’t recommend this approach.

Richard Pratt, one of my seminary professors, used the metaphor of a “theological home.”  If you are coming into the faith for the first time, or if you are new to the Reformed faith but think this may be your “home,” your first task is to build your house and get well grounded in the fundamentals.  Once you have a home, you can go out and “visit” other places without being threatened.  But if you are theologically homeless, you’ll take your shopping cart and pick up anything that looks like it may be of value.

My next preaching series after finishing the prayers of Paul will be the book of Esther.  Esther is a unique book in many respects.  Much of the Bible is a record of the Lord dealing with people extraordinarily:  appearing to them, giving revelation, prophecy, visiting visible manifestations of salvation and judgment.  In Esther, the Lord works inconspicuously through ordinary people and events to preserve his people from destruction.

One book that has been especially helpful here is:  God’s Inconspicuous Providence:  The Gospel According to Esther  by Bryan R. Gregory.

Another book I’m reading is Good News for Anxious Christians  by Philip Cary.  This book is particularly helpful for those coming from a charismatic or broad evangelical Christian tradition.  Dr. Cary’s thesis is that much of the emphasis in modern evangelical Christianity is placed on our feelings or intuitions about God, rather than his objective revelation in the gospel.  He does an excellent job in diagnosing some of the spiritual problems that come with this orientation (for example, “how do I know if I’m doing something in my own strength rather than trusting in the Lord?) and pointing Christians to the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is revealed in the written Word of God, rather than in our internal experiences.

CHURCH SERVICES

Once again, as long as social distancing is recommended, if you decide to stay home for reasons of conscience or from an abundance of caution, we honor, respect, and support your decision. We continue to offer livestream service at 11 AM and 5 PM here.  If you find that there are still starts and stops and gaps in the livestream service, you may access the recorded service, which is available shortly after the conclusion of the livestream.  This should eliminate those difficulties.  If neither of these works well, our audio sermons are available at Sermon Audio.  We are continuously working to improve the quality of our livestream, so hopefully, it will improve week by week.

ZOOM SUNDAY SCHOOL

Pastor Julian Zugg will continue to teach the adult Sunday School class on the Holy Spirit on Zoom.  Watch your email for the Zoom links to Adult Sunday School, which runs from 9:40-10:30 and the Zoom chat after Evening Worship, which begins around 6:15.

Your officers are praying for you, and are privileged to minister to you in any way that you may find helpful.   And remember, if you are ever in need of spiritual counsel or prayer, please ask me, Pastor Lou, or one of the elders. This is what we are here for.  We are happy to serve you in this way!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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