Weekly Update - 20Mar2020
[Video transcript is included below]
ZF family, I just wanted to give you a couple updates and an encouragement as we think about this next Sunday and the weeks ahead. Personally, I just got back from a trip with my family. We were out of town last week and returned, refreshed and rested. So I'm so grateful for that time away. While we were gone, it's also when the news started coming out about the virus spreading and decisions we needed to make be make as a church family. So I'm so grateful for the leaders that came together to make wise decisions. I'm so grateful for so many of you, I heard so many different ways in which you as members were serving one another, caring for one another, checking in on one another, reaching out to one another. So I'm so grateful for that. And I'm grateful to be back here in town with you all.
And so as we think about life together as a church family in these coming weeks ahead, we wanted to share that we still will need to no longer meet as a church family on Sundays until further notice, and any programs or ministry events that would take place in a church building also won't be able to take place at this time until further notice. But even though we can't meet together as a whole church family, we still do need one another. And we still do need the Lord and His word, and we need to be praying together to him. And so what we're going to do is prepare a worship guide for this coming Sunday and the Sundays ahead. And this will give an opportunity for us to come together. If not physically, then at least in spirit and in heart, and pray and read God's word and hear a message from God's word.
I'm still going to be preparing sermons like I always do and giving just as much of my time and heart to those. This Sunday we'll be considering Psalm four, which is a great song about trusting God and trying circumstances. And I encourage you in this time to immerse yourself in the Psalms. We just had several months of immersing ourselves in the book of Ephesians as a church family. Why don't we take these next couple months and immerse ourselves in the Psalms? You know, God gave me is the book of songs to give voice to our emotions, and actually to shape our emotions to help us learn how to live as followers of Jesus as those who trust in the Lord in trying, in difficult circumstances. So we'll be considering that this Sunday and encourage you to immerse yourself in the Psalms with me in these coming weeks together. And you know, the apostle john, when he was writing a letter to other Christians, he said that he would rather not be writing with ink and paper, you wanted to see them face to face, because he said, that's when their joy would be complete.
So there's something about being together, face to face with the embodied presence that leads to a completeness of joy. And so we recognize that this is not ideal. Meeting together is the way God designed it. We need one another. And we're longing for that Sunday when we get to gather back together, but in the meantime, we do have great resources to connect with one another. So we still need each other, we still need friendship. And so I encourage you to continue reaching out through text or email, or writing letters or video calls with one another, you can drop in if you think that would be safe using discretion and wisdom to meet with other friends and encourage one another in appropriate ways. I encourage you to do that.
So this is not ideal, but it's also not new in history, for Christians to go through seasons like this to be an opportunity, opportunity to be light in a culture that is dealing with great distressing situations like this. And it's also an opportunity for us. So I want to just read briefly, a note from Martin Luther from the 1500s when there was a plague that was wiping out large populations in Europe. It was a very terrible, difficult trying time, and Christians were responding to that. And so here's one way Martin Luther responded, I think this can show us our opportunity we have today as well. He said:
"I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated, and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so caused their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me. And I've done what he's expected of me. And so I'm not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but we'll go freely".
And then he added this,
"See, this is such a God fearing faith, because it's neither brash nor foolhardy, and does not tempt God".
So we have a great opportunity as Christians, to trust the Lord in this circumstance, to go deep with Him in His Word, to go deep with one another in community in creative ways to reach out in practical ways to our neighbors, some of those who are across the street or down the road, have very few people, maybe no one and checking in on them and caring for them. And it's opportunity for us to reach out to a number of our neighbors to write a note or check in and ask how we can help them in practical ways and to serve and bless one another. So look forward to connecting on Sunday with you all. And in the meantime, as we connect in these various ways, look forward to the great re gathering on a Sunday morning whenever the Lord wills.