I hope this finds you well, as we continue to adjust to everything that is happening in our world. I also wanted to write to you today to encourage us all towards endurance as we each respond in different ways.
It’s also worth taking a moment to reflect on how fast things have been changing.
This was brought home to me again, this morning, as Chalie and I were preparing for the day. We generally do our dinner planning once a week. And so, dinner tonight was actually planned out last Thursday. At the time, we assumed we’d have a relatively normal day, with 2 parents working, 2 kids at school, 2 kids at daycare, and then 2 different soccer practices later tonight, and therefore, we had planned for a quick dinner for what would be a long day. But of course, a lot has changed since then… Even though that was only a week ago today.
That said, I also know that some of you have been dealing with some of these new realities for longer than we have. And, some of you have been dealing with far MORE significant concerns that dwarf these current difficulties – medical and otherwise. (I was even reminded, in talking with a few of you, that some of you have been dealing with the difficulties of quarantine long before anyone ever heard of Coronavirus.)
All that said, I wanted to reach out today to connect us back together again, to encourage us as we face challenges, and to continue to invite us to find ways to grow deeper in our faith as we look towards our faithful God.
I’m reminded of Romans 5:3-5…“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Of course, this also seems to imply that we have a choice – depending on how we view and respond to our current trials. Because we don’t have to persevere… we don’t have to try… we don’t have to press forward.
We can simply give up, or we can settle for the way it is, or we can give in to fear.
But that’s not what Paul is saying in Romans… Paul is trying to help us recognize that there’s another choice… We can persevere, we can grow in character, we can become a people of hope.
To put it another way, we can use this time to dig deeper, pray harder, read better, love more… – and be CHANGED.
But this requires us to live intentionally… and this won’t come easily…
Especially because, now there are more distractions than ever… EVERYTHING is clamoring for our attention… EVERYTHING is urgent… EVERYTHING is life threatening… EVERYTHING is louder than it was before…
- Worry keeps us watching the news… just in case something else happens… and it makes us crazy
- Loneliness keeps us turning towards social media… to feel connected… and it makes us feel more separate
- Boredom keeps us hungering for anything more… to help us find more meaning… but we can’t do what we want… and so we go right back to where we just were
- Plus, now we have more to do than normal: learning to work differently, discovering that there’s more that needs to be done at home, learning how to teach our kids at home, plus all the other challenges that we’re facing…
- AND, for most, we’re also stuck inside for all of this… or cautiously going out for work or supplies…
It’s no wonder that we’re more tired, more nervous, more stressed, and more agitated…
And yet, maybe WE need to remember what season we’re in… maybe WE – who are feeling the weight of worry… and the boredom, and the loneliness, and the exhaustion… – maybe WE need to turn back towards God… and maybe WE need to be invited back into a holy Lent.
What if we weren’t just separate, but what if we chose to live in a different way…
What if we responded differently…
What if we found our identity in our faith…
Maybe there are some new practices that WE need to return to… in THIS particular season:
- Maybe pick up your Bible and read Philippians… or 1st Peter…
- Maybe put down your mobile phone and electronics… unless directly reaching out to someone…
- Maybe make a list of names to pray for… and then pray… (and then call/email/text them)…
- Maybe only look at the news once a day 😊
- Maybe, if it’s not raining (or even if it is), go into your back yard… and look for Spring (as we remember that God is still sovereign… and still faithful)
- Maybe involve the other people in your household into these practices WITH you.
And then, of course, we’ll also need to find new ways to worship together…
In continuing to work to care for each other, and knowing that there are many at high risk, we are going to attempt to move our worship online this coming Sunday.
This is not normal, this is not the way it is supposed to be, this is not what I want to do – but I think this is the best and right thing for us to do.
Furthermore, it will feel strange, it will feel artificial, it will feel like something is missing. And it is. Because something in us knows that we are supposed to be together.
That said, even in New Testament times, we see that people were worshipping in their homes… were living the faith as families, in neighborhoods, wherever they were.
In fact, a few letters in the New Testament were written by Paul BECAUSE he was separated from the others in the church (sometimes even in prison or under house arrest). To put it in OUR context, we might say that he was quarantined (by the Romans… and THEY took quarantining to another level) 😊.
And yet, he still wanted to reach out and stay connected… and so he used the best technology that he had, to reach out and be connected to his church.
All that to say, what we are doing is not without precedent. Of course, we also have better technology that allows us to be even MORE connected while still being apart.
So, here’s the plan:
THIS SUNDAY, if everything works out (technologically speaking), Sunday Worship will be found online. We will record and post our worship, we will upload a shortened bulletin (order of worship), and then you, in your homes, can gather together to worship as a family (with the people that you’re already in contact with). You’ll be able to find it on our website: www.trinitysouthlake.org.
But wait, there’s more. There is some software that may allow us all to meet together, face to face, virtually, but this will require some more tests… SO, the following Sunday, we may be able to have a worship experience face to face at 10:00 am… (even though we are separate). But again, stay tuned for more information on that next week.
Either way, remember that church isn’t the building that we go to, or even what we do on Sunday mornings. Church is the connected people of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, who pursue the kingdom of God. Or, in our parlance: those who make and grow disciples who give their lives to make a difference in this world!
I am so thankful for all of you
I’m thinking about you all
And I’m praying for each and every one of you
Stay Connected, Be Safe, Hold Fast,
P.S. If you or someone you know specifically needs help, please let us know so that we can see if we have the ability to do something about it!!