Worship to Begin This Weekend, June 4th & 7th
It's been a long time. The last time we had public worship together was March 15th. We had a guest preacher. Since that day, we've had to get by with long-distance learning for our children and online/DVD worship for all. Despite the challenges, there have been many blessings that God has given to us through this difficult time. God promises to refine our faith through the tough times in life, but this only happens as we remain in his Word.
It is time to get back in his Word and in worship together. As we say this, we understand that there may be people who are not ready to be in a group setting out of concerns for their health. We will continue to record our worship, post it on YouTube, and make DVD's. If anyone would like a DVD but hasn't before now, just contact us so that we are sure to have a DVD made for you. There is no charge.
Here is how things will work for the time being:
- We will have worship services each week beginning the weekend of June 7th on Thursdays at 7 (the first Thursday worship is June 4th) and Sundays at 8 and 10:30. This will be the schedule every week throughout the summer. We will re-evaluate things as we go along.
- There will be no Communion in the services for the time being. Your servant-leaders decided it may be best to wait through June to see what the effects of the end of the Safer-at-Home order are. Hopefully we will begin Communion again in July. For those who would like to receive Communion, as has been the case throughout this time of pandemic, you can call and make an appointment with Pastor Snyder and he will be happy to either come to your home or commune you in church, whichever you would prefer.
- The health department is encouraging no singing at this time. Music and singing are such an important part of our worship that we have a hard time cutting it out. We have decided that, for now, the 8am service on Sundays will the "safe service." We will not have singing at that service, and we ask that this service be reserved for those who are most concerned for their health and most vulnerable. This would include anyone over the age of 60 and anyone with a condition or compromised immune system that would make them more susceptible to the virus and more at risk for the especially negative symptoms of the virus. We encourage the younger and healthier among us to attend either the Thursday service or the Sunday 10:30 service. We will have singing at those services, although we will encourage you do be considerate of those around you and either wear a mask or keep your singing on the softer side, or both.
- We will not take offering in the normal way but will have baskets available in which to place your offering on the way out. We will not use hymnals or bulletins for the time being, but everything for the service will be on the screens. We will have hand santizer available at various strategic places and we will employ appropriate spacing throughout the sanctuary. Masks will be available for those who don't have one and are encouraged but not required.
Realize that we are not simply acting according to government standards. We have several health care professionals in our congregation who are having to deal with this virus on a daily basis. They have given their thoughts on this too. While the virus generally affects those who are older and have compromised immune systems, we have seen it hit younger people who were otherwise healthy in some difficult ways. We want to show love for our neighbors and be considerate, doing our best to keep the virus from spreading.
We dare never forget, however, that our times and our very lives are in God's hands. We trust him to take care of us and, when he determines it is time, he will take us home to heaven, whether through COVID-19, a car accident, cancer, a lightning strike, or however he sees best. Your servant-leaders have done their best to act in faith and love. God help us to continue to move forward in faith as his family, united by the gospel of Jesus.
God bless us on this Pentecost Sunday as we remember that the gospel is for all people, carried to the world by Christians of every nationality, color, and background. In these turbulent days, it's only the gospel that can truly heal people and bring us together as one in Christ. Click on the link above or below for this week's worship service.
If you know someone who would be interested in our services but does not have an internet connection, please let them know that we have DVDs available. They are ready to be picked up each week on Saturday by noon with the next day's worship service on it. They are outside the side door of church, beyond the end of the handicap ramp, in a mailbox mounted on the wall next to the door. Please have them call us at (608) 464-3212 to let us know so that we make enough copies each week. The DVDs are free.
Pentecost Worship Service
Daily Devotion - Thursday, June 4, 2020
Each day we post a devotion to help set our hearts on Jesus.
Today's verse comes in the midst of a lecture on what faith truly is. So...what is faith?
To answer, you might be thinking about the verse from Hebrews, "Faith is being sure about what we hope for, being convinced about things we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Since this is from the Bible, it is, of course, a good definition. But it was never intended to be a complete definition that says everything there is to say about faith. It was written as the beginning of a discourse on faith. Through this discourse, we find out something that James is also telling us, and that Jesus himself made clear: Faith acts.
Faith isn't simply about what you believe, nor is it simply some inner power by which we can bring about certain outcomes. Some people will say, "If you have faith, everything will work out." Faith, then, becomes not only the condition but the power by which we control the circumstances around us. People who say such things mean well. But we exhibit our faith better and more accurately if we say, "Jesus has promised that he holds your very life in his almighty, loving hands. He will take care of you and will ultimately deliver you from your problems. Until then, he will give you grace to endure and will bless you through your challenges and any suffering you may undergo." Faith, the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit that came to us through the gospel of Jesus, takes hold of these biblical promises. Christian faith does not live in isolation. It has an object, and the object of our faith--that to which our faith clings--is Jesus.
This brings us back to our previous point. With Jesus as the object of our faith, our faith will also act. Today's verse, that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness," when taken in the context of the previous verses, affirms this: "Wasn’t Abraham our father shown to be righteous by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by his works his faith was shown to be complete" (James 2:21,22). The words of Jesus also enlighten us: "A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Likewise, you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him is the one who bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing" (John 15:4,5).
Going back to Hebrews 11, we understand what it was that Abraham believed that led him to obey God and offer Isaac in sacrifice (By the way, remember that even though God commanded Abraham to do this, he also stopped Abraham before he was able to go through with it). Abraham believed God's promise to expand his family through Isaac. As it says, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered Isaac. This man, who received the promises, was ready to offer his only son, about whom it was said, 'Through Isaac your offspring will be traced.' He reasoned that God also had the ability to raise him from the dead, and in a figurative sense, Abraham did receive him back from the dead" (Hebrews 11:17-19). So Abraham "was called a friend of God."
What great faith! And what a great action of faith! And who gets the credit? The Lord our Savior. "In fact, it is God who is working in you, both to will and to work, for the sake of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). His good pleasure is our eternal good.
Dear friend of God, I pray that the Lord continues to strengthen your faith to trust his promises. I pray that this results in your faith bearing fruit in ways that express great trust in and love for God, as well as a great love for all people. Such faith is needed in our day.
While it can be helpful to have this available during the safer-at-home order, it is something that can be used at any time, or all the time. We are used to the offering being a part of our worship service, but giving online need not take away from thoughtful, heartfelt, faithful giving. In fact, it can be an aid for it.
We have now set up online giving for those who are interested. While many of our members either aren't able to get online or prefer to use their envelopes, we understand that many people today do many transactions online and are very comfortable doing so. It's easy and convenient.
Just so you know what to expect if you use our online giving:
Clicking the link will take you to a third-party website, Faithlife.com. You can donate either with a credit/debit card or by entering your checking account info--your bank routing number and account number. There are minimal processing fees charged to us with each transaction. The fees are taken right out of the gift. Because of greater processing fees with credit/debit cards, it costs less to use your checking account than a debit/credit card. There is also an option for you to cover the processing fees yourself. You simply click a box and, for example, your $25 gift to the church becomes $25.95 in the case of a credit/debit card ($25 to the church and 95 cents in processing fees to Faithlife). Otherwise the church gets $24.05. For using your checking account, the processing fee fro a $25 gift is 56 cents. You don't have to pay the extra for the processing fees. We just want you to understand that the option is available.
If you really like technology and convenience, you can also text "Give" and then the amount you want to give, for example "Give 50" to (608) 424-2445. It will redirect you to our giving webpage to complete the offering, but after you've done it once, you can then give via text without the extra step of going to the giving webpage.
Thank you for your prayers for each other and our called workers and your continued support of our ministry.
Help Available for You
Whether it's a prayer or something else, if you need help of some kind - any kind - and you think that we can help, please call. We're here for each other. We'll do what we can and, if needed, point you in a direction where you can get help that we can't provide. (608) 464-3212.