March 23, 2020 Update
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!
As we move forward with theses almost daily updates, I plan on regularly including announcements, glimpses of grace, and devotional perspectives.
1. Thanks for joining us in worship yesterday. Based on views and assuming an average of 2-3 people per view, we are guessing about 300-350 of us worshiped together. Brock and Matt and Jessy and Scott continue to work hard to make improvements for weeks ahead. And we will be live-streaming a Good Friday gathering and perhaps even Easter Sunrise gathering in addition to the Easter Celebration if such is still needed by then!
2. In that we are not printing a bulletin in these days, we will provide an abbreviated weekly snapshot. General Fund giving for this past week was $6,130. Alliance Mission Giving was $358. Other mission giving was $155. Our early guess based on March giving so far is that General Fund giving will be at about 70% of what we typically receive (and perhaps lower as this goes on and more and more be laid off). I think we can reduce spending to 70% or less as well during this time, so we hope to pay our staff fully as long as we can. I again would encourage you to give proportionately to Missions as well. Our Alliance missionaries for example have no other funding stream than the local church giving!
3. Weekly prayer sheets will be available each Wednesday evening for those who request them...and please know we welcome your prayer concerns and praises.
GLIMPSES OF GRACE
Everyday I hope to share a glimpse of grace that shines through in the midst of our circumstances. I mentioned yesterday that four have occurred to me in terms of the big picture, but I will only share one today (and save others). I encourage you to share glimpses of grace (or what some call "glory sightings") with one another regularly---via email, FaceBook etc., big and small! One thing I have noticed during this time is that we truly do seem to be driven by a compassion to protect the most vulnerable among us...to ask all to go out of their way to be especially sensitive to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It many ways it reflects James injunction to look after widows and orphans in their distress. If that kind of compassion continued when all of this is past, that would be awesome!
In our countdown from Ash Wednesday until the coming of Easter, we have only 20 days left until Easter. When we get to 14 days left, I want to share a brief thought based on one station of the 14 biblical stations of the cross each day...borrowing largely from the Lenten Guide we made available to the body this year, "The Unvarnished Jesus." Let's walk to Easter together!
Until then, I will share a few bullet points each day, again borrowing from our Lenten guide by Brian Zahnd, to "catch us up".
* When Jesus confronted the rich young ruler whom he dearly loved about giving away all he had, the core issue was coveting. Coveting puts us in economic competition with our neighbors and makes it very difficult to engage in neighborly love. It's hard to love our neighbors with full generosity when in our minds we are in competition with them for stuff that we think we rightly deserve. Economic self interest is one of the greatest obstacles to full Kingdom participation. We cannot love our neighbor as our self without being willing to share our wealth. In this tough time, may Christ followers shine!
* When James and John asked to be on Jesus' right and left when he came into His Kingdom, they did not realize that literally, that would have meant being crucified with him...for that's when he came into His Kingdom! They were looking for political power...but the kingdom of Christ never comes that way. James and John were laboring under the lie that the only way to change the world is through power...but the real answer is co-suffering love. Again in this time that we face, may we as Christ followers shine!
* When we pray safe prayers (so different from the prayerful cries of those who looked to Jesus for help), we avoid disappointment but we also miss out on miracles. But as we pray boldly, Jesus can help us bear the disappointment when our timing or our ways are not His and the Spirit can show us unanticipated ways that God is at work in providing answers we did not expect! We can live in a world where not all our prayers are answered this side of the day when everything is made new. But we cannot live in a world where a prayer answering God is not called upon! In this time that we face, why worry, when you can pray boldly and trust fully!
In closing...I've heard with more time together, lots of people are starting to play board games as a family. Parcheesi is a favorite with Marlene and me (and we are pretty equal unlike if we play Boggle and I get smoked every time)! What are your favorite games that you are playing these days? :)