Hello Grace Family!
I am really excited to email you because I have some fun news to share with you! We are planning to resume in-person worship on June 14th at 10:30am. We are in the process of thinking through and preparing for all the details around re-entry into gathered, bodily worship at Grace. We will communicate more details about the specifics as we get closer.
What are some things we can do while we prepare to gather for in-person worship? First, we need to celebrate! Worshiping God together as a gathered body is the most important thing God’s people can do. So we need to be excited that we are going to be with each other, in person, singing, praying, feasting on the supper, and hearing God’s Word together! We have much to be grateful for and getting to be in the same room with each other is going to be such a gift and a delight. June 14th is going to be a very exciting Sunday and I beg you to pray with us as we all prepare to come back together.
Second, we all need to manage our expectations. Sunday in-person worship, is not going to look the same as it did before the quarantine. We will give you more details next week, but I encourage you to begin, today, to think about what it will mean for you to reflect Jesus in light of Galatians 5:13 and Philippians 2:2-5. Paul says in Galatians, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.” And Paul says in Philippians, “then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus...” Paul implores Christ’s people to reflect Jesus in their attitudes and behaviors with one another. The reality is, many of us can potentially be upset or frustrated by the way things are going to go or not go when we resume in-person worship. But, we can definitely make things worse if we are primarily concerned about having our needs and our expectations met and attended to. Jesus calls us, as his followers, to be more concerned with communicating care and tending to the needs of those around us. We are even called to sacrificially give up our needs and freedom to humbly serve one another.
Why am I encouraging us in this way? Because we all likely land on different places concerning how strict or relaxed we want/expect/think things should be concerning re-entry into in-person worship at Grace. Some of us think no one should wear masks, some think everyone should always have a mask on. Some of us think we shouldn’t sing together, others think we absolutely have to sing with no restrictions. Some of us think the nursery should be closed, others think the nursery should be open. Some of us think the church is moving too fast in resuming in-person worship, and others think we should have resumed a long time ago. I implore you, do not let those things consume you or divide us. Let’s be a people known for what we are for rather than what we are against. Let’s start by looking for the things we can be thankful for in gathering together again for worship in the sanctuary. Let’s not look for things to criticize and be offended and upset by. The reality is when we remember we are defined by Jesus, the one who gave up his rights and his privileges and his freedom to death, so that he could welcome and bring us in, we will begin to reflect his attitude with each other, especially as we approach re-entry into in-person worship together. So let me encourage you to think about how you can use and give up your freedom to humbly serve one another in love. Let me encourage you to think about how you can look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Let us all consider how we can give things up, things that we may value and care deeply about, so that others might feel welcomed, known, loved, and cared for.
I cannot tell you how excited I am to see your faces, to hear your voices, and to feast at the Lord’s table together. It is going to be so sweet and encouraging and beautiful to gather with you for worship. We will communicate more details as we approach June 14th, but for now know this: We will gather for worship online using Facebook on May 31st and June 7th. We will continue to record and stream the service for those that are unable to or uncomfortable with gathering together. Please know that wherever you are on the various opinions and stances related to re-entry, know that we love you and are zealous to gather together safely for worship for the sake of our people and for the sake of our neighbors. It is ok to have a difference of opinion in regards to the decisions around re-entry, but we ask that you pursue the peace and purity of the church and seek to reflect the humility of Jesus around these issues. May we be a people not known for divisiveness or biting and devouring each other, but may we be known for our love, our humility, for the way we seek to serve one another in love at great cost to ourselves and our preferences.
I’m excited and grateful to get to participate in worship with you again this Sunday morning! Tell your friends. Like us on facebook. Prepare your hearts. Go to www.gracewoodlands.org to download the bulletin. See you at 10:30 am. Here is the link again for our facebook page. https://fb.me/gracewoodlandspca.
The staff and the elders and deacons are praying for you and are here for you. If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact the church office and let us know how we can be serving you or praying for you. I’ve also attached a children’s devotional around Pentecost that hopefully is an encouragement to you.