It has been a joy to see many of you in person as our worship services have resumed. Church life remains far from optimal, with our limited capacity and curtailed programs, together with the fact that many of you do not feel comfortable attending in person yet. We also face unknowns about how the progress of the pandemic may affect our church. Nevertheless, every inch toward normalcy makes me feel grateful!
Pastor Steve and I have sought to provide perspective on these events through our weekly pastoral reflections during the shutdown. This email will probably be the final pastoral reflection for a while, as we now focus our efforts on reopening. In this last reflection, let’s be encouraged by considering some of the ways God has shown his kindness to our church over the past months. He has helped us see old truths in new ways.
God has reminded us how much we depend on his daily care. As 2020 opened, most of us felt pretty well-established in our routines. Then a virus sent the world into a tailspin. This has helped us see much more clearly than ever how we depend on our Father to open his hand and supply health, employment, and everything else necessary for living. This sharpens our appreciation for his daily provision. Mindful of his care, let us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” 1 Thess. 5:18.
We have come to understand more fully who really sustains the church. Before Covid, we could not have imagined going for months of drastically curtailed church programs and no in-person meetings. Yet God has continued his work among us through worship, prayer, and creative ministry carried out by members. This drives home how we do not ultimately maintain the church by our own efforts. Rather, Christ “makes the whole body grow so that it builds itself up in love,” Eph. 4:16. To him alone be the glory!
Finally, we have learned about the sweetness of Christian fellowship. The time apart has been hard. Many of us have experienced loneliness. We have felt a creeping discouragement and imbalance due to lack of connection. On the positive side, drive-by visits and virtual meetings with Christian friends during the shutdown have been joyful and memorable. God has been teaching us to treasure one another. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For I long to see you…that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Let us never take another gathering of Christians for granted.
May the Lord continue to sustain us through the coming months as we move (we pray) back toward normal body life and fellowship, for which we have renewed thankfulness.
Warmly in Christ,
Pastor Dan Clifford