This season is challenging, isn’t it? Even so, I believe that you and I were created for such a time as this.
And, I want to say that it is ok to experience feelings of grief (loss), anxiety, and discouragement. In my message for Easter Sunday, I identified what people are feeling. And, I shared in my recent messages some ways that we can deal with those emotions and process them.
In this season, I hope you are continuing to fight the good fight of faith, to let others know what you need, and to share what you are going through with others for the sake of authenticity, connection, and prayer. And, may I suggest turning Joshua 1:9 into a prayer. Ask the Lord for physical strength and heart strength. Pray for deliverance or freedom from fear and discouragement. Ask the Lord to help you to be aware of his promised presence with you.
I hope that you are redeeming the time by making time to connect with the Lord through spiritual practices. In this season, I pray that we are all growing in our capacity to pursue deep intimacy and full partnership with the Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual formation happens through intentional effort and practice, like devotional scripture reading, praying, journaling, fasting, worship, silence, solitude, prayer walking, and a number of other spiritual practices.
In the midst of the challenges we are facing, here is what I am celebrating:
- Health: To our knowledge, no member of Calvary has contracted the virus.
- Gratitude: Our culture is becoming more thankful for folks on the front lines, including emergency responders, law enforcement officers, medical personnel, and other essential service providers like childcare workers and such. And, we are learning to appreciate the people who are keeping our supply channels open like truck drivers, delivery service providers, grocery store employees, volunteers, ministries, and other vocations which we have taken for granted or under appreciated. I have also heard much appreciation expressed for school teachers, staff, and leaders; having kids home all day gives a whole new perspective for some people. (Yes, I hear the home school parents chuckling.)
- Ministry and pastoral care: You are reaching out to and expressing care for your small group members, neighbors, and family members. Some of you are checking in regularly on others. Some of you are making grocery store runs for those who need the help and support. I am jazzed at how we are learning to use technology to connect with one another and to help each other. The Alpha meetings are going strong. There are a number of prayer meetings which take place each week. Journey Group meetings are going well.
- Our staff team and other ministry leaders: The pastoral and staff team at Calvary are an amazing bunch. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful team. They are learning how to connect with our children, youth, and members in amazing and new ways. In both the Children and Student Ministries, our leaders are using technology to share, teach, and equip. Starting soon, there will be Zoom meetings for Equipping the Saints and Adult Bible Study classes. We are live streaming our services and events. Yes, the learning curves are steep. And, so many people are stepping up to make things happen. Praise the Lord.
- Special thanks: Let’s give a shout out to our worship team, musicians, and media teams who make our worship services possible via live stream each Sunday. Through their efforts, the number of people we are reaching through online services continues to grow.
- Volunteers: Thanks to all the volunteers who help us to fulfill our vision and mission, and to do it with excellence. Without you, Calvary would not accomplish what God has called us to do. I also want to give a shout out to Ron and Mindy Homann, and their helpers, who have worked tirelessly on the Prayer Garden and the grounds at Calvary. They spread a truckload of mulch across the property among other things. Keith and Conner Ressler helped repair the pergolas and the Ressler family does so much for Calvary. Again, thanks to every one of you who volunteer in a myriad of ways!!!
- Finances: The financial status of the church is healthy for the first quarter of the year. Some of our members have been laid off or had their hours reduced. And, others in the church, who continue to get pay checks and retirement income, have actually increased their giving to the church. Some of you are learning to give online or to give through the mail, which helps us a lot. Thanks to all who are able to give generously. Please pray for those who have lost income.
Availability: Our small groups and ministry leaders are our first line of pastoral care at Calvary. Please let them know how you are doing and if you become aware of someone having a need. And, you can always contact Margaret Petry or me via email, or you can call or text me at 281-686-5291. Let’s keep the information and communication flowing.
When will we meet again? We’ve all grown tired of the isolation. You and I are looking forward to the time when we can gather again. Yes, we definitely will have a celebration when we meet again face-to-face in person! That being said, just this afternoon, Gov. Abbott extended the closure of schools for the rest of this school year. That was expected. I assume that the restrictions on church gatherings will remain in place, too, through the end of May. Please continue to pray and stand in the gap, because this season of continued restrictions will hit people with more grief, anxiety, and discouragement.
In light of what is going on as we deal with COVID-19, I want to give you three questions for reflection.
First, spend time prayerfully working through these questions. Second, I encourage you to take to some time to spend with the Lord in reflection. Then, I suggest that you share what you are getting aware of with others.
- What is something you are celebrating in this season of stay home and work safe (this season of dealing with the coronavirus)?
- What challenge(s) are you facing?
- What are you learning about yourself in this season?
By engaging in the disciple of reflection and practicing authenticity, you use two spiritual practices that will help you process this season of physical distancing and pandemic.
Thank you for your faithfulness to give, to care, to connect, and to serve to advance the kingdom of God in the earth.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at 281-686-5291.
Please continue praying for our church, city, and nation… and if you have faith, for this world that needs healing and mercy. Pray for seeds of the gospel of the kingdom of God which were scattered by all the churches and saints at Easter. Pray that there would be a 100-fold harvest and that many people would follow Jesus, the Risen King.
May the Lord pour into you his grace, wisdom, and strength which you need for each day.
Senior Pastor, Calvary Community Church