Hope Deferred? – One of the things that I have been doing during this week after Easter is trying to connect with and learn from other pastors and church leaders as to how they are responding to the challenges facing churches and clergy during this unusual time. I feel like I need all the help and encouragement I can get, and so do most other pastors and church leaders that I have been able to hook up with.On Wednesday afternoon, I watched a podcast, participated in a webinar, and later was part of a Zoom meeting. I learned something from each one of them. To paraphrase a quote from Martin Luther: “We are all beggars trying to tell each other where to find a piece of bread.” In other words, we are all trying to figure it out and no one knows exactly what the future (or even the present) holds.
Here is one scripture that was shared during the podcast that I have found immensely valuable and provocative. It is Proverbs 13:12 – “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” One of the toughest and most challenging aspects to these days is hoping for the return to some version of normal. When we went into our caves a month or so ago, few among us would have imagined just how long this process would take. One “shelter at home” order has turned into another and yet at least one more would seem to be on the way at the end of April. If we get our hopes up, we are bound to be disappointed, aren’t we? Many events – sports, proms, graduations, wedding receptions, worship services, and numerous others – have either been deferred, postponed, or significantly altered. It is easy to become heartsick, isn’t it, especially as we have begun to realize that things will never be the same again. Maybe you have felt that way more than once in the past few weeks. It can be depressing and defeating, can’t it?
But as much as “hope deferred makes the heart sick” might resonate with you, what about that second part of the verse – “A longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” What I am asking myself this week is how can I, how can our church, be a tree of life for others during this time period? Are there new ways that we can be reaching both inward as a congregation as well as outward to our neighbors that can make a real difference in someone’s life? Do you have a longing for something new and creative and maybe even a bit crazy that you want to try out during (what I called during my Easter sermon) this Interim Tomb Time. We can’t do many of the things that we have done before, but we might be able to launch something new and life giving. Just because the old normal might be gone forever, it doesn’t mean that the new reality will be worse. Is it possible that we are living into something even better?
Here is one idea I have – is anyone interested in being part of an online Bible Study group? You can either call in with your phone or video conference with Zoom. We will start with the text to be preached on the next Sunday. If you are interested, please let me know.
So please think about and pray about new things that even now God might be envisioning for you and I and for the New Horizons Christian Church. Please share these with me. How can God’s longings for us be fulfilled so that we might become a tree of life in our little part of the world?
Here’s a link to an encouraging video that I hope lifts you up: “Rise Up”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_YDpP-nU6w
Easter – Thanks to all who tuned in to our YouTube channel on Easter morning as well as shared the link with others. We are reaching more people with our online services than we did at our “in person” services. Thanks to our team of Adam Seger, Sam Kitzler, Ali Miguel, Tammy Keen, and Steve Stimler.
Feel free to share comments and feedback either on the YouTube comments area or by email to be at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Givings/Offerings Your financial offerings continue to be generous – what a blessing you have been. This week we should be finishing our application process to be part of the online giving platform called Givelify, which is used by our General church office. You will be able to send a gift to the church from your computer or smart phone.
Worship on April 19 – While worship attendance is often somewhat low on the Sunday after Easter, who knows what it will be like this year? To pique your interest, I will share that we will have a special guest preacher this weekend. Tune in on Sunday morning and find out who it is.
Search Team for Co-Pastor Position – We have been receiving resumes and hope to interview candidates in early May via Zoom.
Elders – Remember our meeting on Tuesday April 21.
Camp Christian Whether we have programs at Camp Christian this summer may be out of our hands, but we are trying to keep all of our options open and have scheduled a week for each age group to be held in late summer. Details about this were contained in last week’s blog. If you are interested in having your son or daughter at Camp Christian, please let me or Terri Allen know ASAP. We don’t need a financial commitment yet, but we need a total of 400 campers to make the schedule financially feasible. We are over halfway there in just two weeks.