Dealing with Fear of Change (Pastoral Letter and Worship Plan – April 25, 2020)

Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,

Matthew 7:24–27
““Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel like we are in the middle of the kind of storm Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7:24-26. We are in a time of unprecedented change. This pandemic has changed our lives and more change is on the horizon. 

Does the change create a certain fear in you? It does for many. We have no clue how the current crisis will change our lives, health, and jobs. 

Change, even without a crisis, is one of the most stressful experiences of life. Throw in the forced changes of the pandemic and it’s even more stressful. Psalm 46:2 speaks of a confidence in the midst of great upheaval, “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.” 

There is no going back to the way things were. Sure, many things will revert back to the way they were, but many things will be new. Truly, things were changing around us and the future will not be like the past, but the current pandemic has accelerated those changes. We must remember that our hope has never been in a constant life or an unchanging future. Our hope has always been, and will always be, in an unchanging God.

Our sovereign God is not anxious about the future. He’s not watching the news, wringing his hands, wondering if His plans will work out. No, though it is a mystery to us, God is in control of everything that happens and he is bringing it to a glorious end. That is why he can say, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). 

We will be pressed by the changes around us. It’s hard. I know it. But we must find a solid hope in times like this, and Jesus Christ is the only person secure enough to bring us that hope. He is the Rock. The wind and waves may crash against Him, but He will not be moved. And all those who build on him simultaneously will not be moved (Psalm 37:23-24).

Rooted in him, we have the confidence that God will never leave us. Whatever our fears are: financial, health, emotional – we know that God will stay near to the brokenhearted (Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 34:18).

Let us remain faithful to the mission before us, trusting God and walking by faithful obedience and all we do.

Restarting Worship

I don’t know about you, but I long to worship together as a body once again. 

The way we gather for worship will also change as we think about reopening. We will work to make New Life in Christ Church a safe place to come and worship at. The situation is in flux, including government policies but we are thinking about what is necessary for reopening, currently set by the governor for June 10.

Back at the start of this pandemic, our church established a number of health and safety related changes. We will revisit those and other changes we need to address so that people are comfortable to come back at the right time. We anticipate that not everyone will come back at once. In fact, we may even discourage certain groups of people from attending at the beginning. We will continue our live stream for everyone who remains at home. Please pray for us in this, and let us know your concerns. This is the time we especially have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

As a church, we are busier than ever proclaiming the gospel, worshipping, praying, building community, teaching, and serving our community. I am especially grateful to our other pastors, elders, deacons, care group leaders, and all our Bible study leaders. These people have reached out and have help to keep us all connected. I just have to say again how grateful I am to Scott Oberlin, Sean O’Hara, and Drew Kittredge for keeping our live stream going. I am grateful for how many continue to work from home, many are making masks for the community, we are helping each other move, and reach out to those in need.

One more bit of upcoming news. On May 10, we hope to have a drive-in worship service at 10 am. Look for the details in the weeks to come. We still plan to have a live stream for that service, and we will need to practice physical distancing by staying in our cars, but it gives an opportunity to see each other‘s faces, even through windshields, and be in one place together.

Grace to you and all that you do. I eagerly look forward to the chance that we will be in one room worshiping together again someday. When this all passes, we will look back and be amazed at how God carried us through this.

I continue to pray for your health, and your well-being, and asked that if you need anything, please let me, one of our pastors, your Shepherd Elder, or care group leader, or anyone in leadership know how we can help.

Faithfully Yours,
Pastor Sean

If you have specific needs, please let us know (nlicc@nlicc.org || 540-786-4848) so that we can pray for you and offer any practical help. Our elders are available as are our deacons (https://goo.gl/forms/wZ8miuU2BptSmOtG3). Please be aware of your neighbors needs, especially the elderly and vulnerable. We are here for you.

Preparing for Sunday Worship

You will find that preparing for streaming worship may be helpful for getting the most out of the service. Here are some suggestions to make the most of the service.

Remember, you are joining a service of worship. The way we prepare for worship prepares our heart to hear God’s Word. There is no one who will check up on you in these things, so these are suggestions just for you to avoid casualness that will miss God’s best for you:

  • Go to bed at a good time on Saturday and wake up on time. 
  • Ready your hearts for worship by focusing on things that get you ready to worship. Save other things until later. Consider starting with prayer and Bible Study.
  • Finish breakfast before attending. 
  • Get dressed for church. Get out of your pajamas and put on the kind of clothes that make you think you are doing something important. Remember, God is *your* audience and we don’t dress up on Sundays as a fashion show, but in respect and love for God. Don’t discount the way that getting dressed also prepares your mind and heart for worship.
  • Arrange your seating around the livestream to promote a posture of purpose in worship. 
  • Download and print the bulletin. We have an updated bulletin that is easier to print. Just print the pages you want. We updated the link so it is easier to print than ever.
  • Sign the guest book. If you are willing, we are asking everyone to sign in, both members and visitors. Put in any comments or prayer requests. There is a link just below the live stream, or you can click here: https://forms.gle/EyUV24ucWU1EYJ3U9 
  • Vigorously engage in worship with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (including your voice) along with those around you as we all do the best we can given our circumstances. 
  • If you are willing, take a picture or video of those gathered in your home to share later on social media with the #nlicalive hashtag so we can enjoy at least that much fellowship with one another. 
  • Giving is part of worship to God, so take time before, after, or during the service to give. Giving is available online, through the web page, or through the tithe.ly phone app. Or, you can mail or drop off tithes and offerings to the church office.
  • Practice the hymns ahead of time. Hymns for the Week: We Praise You, O God, Our Redeemer, Creator (#97)  and A Child Of the King (#525). This is something you can do every day through the week, maybe as part of dinner devotions or a morning quiet time.

We are praying for a glorious worship experience wherever you are!

Pastor Sean

 

Upcoming Events via Livestream ( www.nlicc.org/watchlive  )

This Sunday (4/26/20)

  • 9 am – Sunday School (Streaming): Bob Rumbaugh – The Apostles’ Creed
  • 10 am – Worship Service: Pastor Sam Capitano preaching (Live Stream) 
  • Evening Word & Fellowship: Robin Wilson (at 6:00 pm via Zoom) https://zoom.us/j/434779132; Also available by Live Stream
  • Youth Discipleship Group (at 7:00 pm via Zoom) 

MONDAY: Day of Prayer and Fasting – Meet for Prayer from 5-6 PM on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/770719915

Inviting Others to Church

The world has a greater need than ever before. Take this time to invite two other people to join our streaming service? All you need to do is to send them a link to our Watch Live page (www.nlicc.org/watchlive/). So many people could use the encouragement. It doesn’t even matter where they live as they could be halfway around the world and still join in. Just tell them we start at 10 am (Eastern)!

 

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