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May 28, 2020

A Pastoral Word. . .

by Pastor Mark Adams

May 28, 2020
Remember this room?

So far, ten Sundays have passed since we gathered here to worship our Lord and the Covid-19 infection numbers continue to rise here in the heart of Montgomery County.

I can't tell you when we will return to our campus, yet---but I can give you an idea of what it will be like at first. Eventually, things will get back to normal, but in the beginning things will be different. For example:
  • We'll gather in smaller numbers so as to make social/physical distancing possible. You can see the beginning of that new set up in this picture.
  • Our services will be shorter and we may offer two or three on Sundays so as to keep our numbers low.
  • We will have non-contact digital thermometers in use at the front doors so as to make sure attenders are healthy.
  • We will require worshipers wear face-masks and will provide masks for those who don't have their own.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations will be available and we will provide a touchless environment.
  • We will not have childcare but children will be welcome in worship and seen as a blessing, not a distraction.
  • Music will be different, probably no congregational singing.
  • Shaking hands and hugging necks during our greeting time will be replaced by waves and "virtual hugs."
  • An offering won't be taken by passing the plate; instead, we will leave the plates at the exits where people can leave their tithes.
  • We'll exit as directed to avoid crowded hallways.
  • Services will be live-streamed for those who don't feel comfortable attending.
  • Grace Groups and committees will continue to meet online via Zoom.
These guidelines may seem discouraging, but I believe they will be temporary.

One more thing: As we make plans to return, we must acknowledge the fact that Christians disagree as to how best to respond to Covid-19.  I read about one believer who blasted his church"s leaders' re-opening plan as "an experiment in human sacrifice." Someone on the other side called Christians who refused to meet during the lockdown: "cowardly, compromising, noodle back, good-for-nothing milquetoast preachers."

Everyone has a right to their own opinion. But as Christians we do NOT have the right to stir up dissension in the church, nor do we have the right to be unloving toward those who do not share our beliefs about all this.

When we do re-gather, one thing WILL be unchanged. We are still a church driven by grace and that grace must be expressed in our disagreements.

This is a time to, "let our conversation be seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6), a time to, "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another just as in Christ, God forgave us." (Ephesians 4:32)

Remember, God's grace is what has made our spirit so sweet over the years. Grace-saturated relationships are what have made us able to say, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord!" (Psalm 122:1)

Keep the SON in your eyes!
Mark
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