Pastoral Letter July 17, 2020

Dear Church Family and Friends,

I’m learning that one of the keys to maintaining my sanity during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic is to have things to look forward to.  This Lord’s Day evening, we will be celebrating the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the first time since March.

Like many of you, I’ve missed being able to take communion.  This brings up the question, “what do we receive in the Sacrament that we don’t receive in the other elements of worship?”  We know that we are missing something, but maybe we aren’t quite sure what it is.  So, let’s look at what we don’t receive.

First, all aspects of corporate worship point us to Christ.  We receive Jesus Christ, as he is offered in the gospel as the Word is read, sung, prayed, and preached each week.  Christ is in all of our worship.  So, we don’t receive something different in the Lord’s Supper.

Second, we don’t receive a better Christ.  The thoughts, words, and works of Christ are already perfected.  Nothing can be added to them to make them “more perfect.”

And third, at least objectively, we don’t receive an extra blessing in the Sacrament. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:3 that in Christ, we are blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

But what we do receive is articulated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 92, which defines a sacrament as a “holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.”

Now, that’s a mouthful, and I’m not going to break this down word by word here.  The main thing we receive is Christ and all his benefits – the same benefits that are offered to us in the Word and received by faith alone in him.  These are “represented, sealed, and applied to us by sensible signs.”

An imperfect illustration of this that at least some of you will identify with is the current limitation of touch during COVID-19.  Perhaps you have friends that you used to shake hands with, or hug.  Under the current conditions, much of that touching is suspended.

It’s not as though your friendship is broken because of this.  And if you were to resume shaking hands or hugging, this friend would not be transformed into a new friend.  But touch gives us a greater assurance of the friendship and the fellowship we share.  It’s comforting.  It’s reassuring.  It’s nourishing.  It underlines that this person really cares for me.

So, this is one of the ways that the Sacrament builds greater assurance of the love of Christ in each of his people.  We receive Christ not only in our minds, but through our senses as we eat and drink of him spiritually.

NEW PROCEDURES FOR COMMUNION

Our procedures for serving communion will be altered during our present situation.  The first change is that we will be using Fellowship Cups, which are prefilled cups with a wafer and grape juice sealed inside.  We have not found this product or a close substitute available with wine, so for those of you with an entrepreneurial bent, here’s a new business idea!  Here is a short video that shows how they work.  I will also give instructions as the sacrament is administered.

As a consequence of this, since the bread and the cup are packaged together, the elders will make one distribution rather than separate distributions for the bread and the cup, as is our normal practice.  The cups will be “socially distanced” in the trays, as each tray will only be filled to 50 percent capacity.

Following the benediction, the deacons will come down the aisles and collect the empty cups and release you by rows.

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 asks you to 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 know that the masks are annoying and that we are all tired of wearing them, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to this in sight.  However, the COVID-19 threat seems more real now that some of our church members have contracted the virus.  Thankfully, none have needed to be hospitalized, nor have any of them been present in worship in the last few weeks.  In view of this, please do continue with the precautions, as Houston is now an epicenter.

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.

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.

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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