During these times that our churches are "closed", we have had to learn to do things differently. We can not do things like we always have - we have to be creative! The church is not a building! We are the church! We are called to be ministers. Ephesians 4: 11-13, "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists,t he pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
In a recent sermon, my pastor mentioned a saying, “the church will sometimes be gathered and will sometimes be scattered! I began thinking of how scattered we are right now but I began to think about all of the things still going on - differently - at church! Our Sunday sermons are live streamed at 9:45 and 11:15 at pvumc.net. We also live stream a devotion on Thursday night at 6: 30. Bible studies are done on Zoom and video. Our members, who may not get online, are being checked on by servants to let them know that the church is still here for them. Our communications team work hard to figure out new and exciting ways to do things during this time!
Our children's ministry has virtual Sunday school. For those of you who are learning so many new terms lately, virtual Sunday school means it is a learning environment by phone or computer that allows for live interaction between the leader and the children as they participate. On Wednesday’s there is a game and a Bible study online. Facebook is used to send videos, read Easter stories and share adventures of Piper and Jack, two special dogs. And talking about thinking out of the box.....parents have been invited to join, again, in their homes, to make Resurrection cookies the day before Easter! They will “seal” their ovens and watch for the video Easter morning on Facebook and email!
Our youth group is using “Zoom”, another new word for most of us, for Wednesday night confirmation and Sunday night youth group. Online group chatting and being able to see each other is important for them. Several parents have been excited about how great the turn out is! Two other comments have been, “it is remarkable how much that just lifted my kid’s spirits.” “Thanks for setting this up for the kids, it was wonderful hearing them laugh and enjoying seeing each other.” Our finance person is being a wise steward of our money and staying informed of relief benefits for our church!
Sunday during the online service, we sang, Bethel Music’s, “Goodness of God”. Even though I was making a joyful noise on my sofa - it was heartfelt as I sang, “all my life you have been faithful, and all my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God!” The tears came and come today as I type it knowing how good and faithful God is to me! I thank Him daily for my hedge of protection He puts around us. Psalm 91: 2-4, “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Although we are scattered at this time, God has allowed us to gather together in new and different ways, to open our hearts to Christ and one another! As you can tell, God will not let a closed building stop His church! Thanks be to God!
So how can we give back? We can be the church from wherever we are. We can pray for our church and others. We can encourage others through a phone call or a note in the mail. There are many people who are alone and would love to have a visit by telephone. We can honor God with our obedience through His tithes and our offerings. "Churches" are still very much “in business” and appreciates your generosity to continue ministries through new and exciting ways! Give to God first and trust Him to take care of everything else! When we give God His tithe, it is a sign that we trust and believe in Him. Proverbs 3: 9-10, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to over flowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."