TWO INSIGHTS FOR OUR MANTRA IN THIS PANDEMIC:
Well, it's August, we are still in the midst of this pandemic, and we are preparing to navigate the school year with many families and teachers stepping into uncharted territory: "online school." I don't know about you, but I have felt this ache in my heart ever since I learned that the majority of schools in our county would be moving to virtual classrooms. My heart aches for the teachers, and administrators that are faced with the challenges, criticisms, and struggles that virtual school creates. My heart aches for the families that are scrambling for childcare. My heart aches for the children and youth that are in homes where abuse and neglect are the norm and school was a safe place to escape. My heart aches for my five children who miss being with their teachers and classmates in person. My heart just aches.
As we think about this, I have been asking, "how is Jesus calling his bride, the Church to respond?" What is our unified mantra? As I have been praying, fasting, and reflecting about this, I wanted to some insights from 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 that I believe the Lord has put on my heart in response to this ache in our heart. I would love to see these two insights be our mantra as a church as we navigate this pandemic.
MANTRA # 1 - NOW IS THE TIME
2 Corinthians 6:1-3 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says “In a favorable time I listened to you and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry
In this passage, Paul is urging the Church to recognize that God is on the move and we are invited to join in His movement. NOW IS THE TIME. I don't know about you, but I can get so caught up with what is going on in the news, facebook, twitter, or even at our church that I miss this truth. God is actively working and moving amongst us and he has work for us to do! NOW IS THE TIME. Not tomorrow. Not after everything opens back up. Not after a vaccine is discovered. Not after I have a better idea of what we can do. I am reminded of the prophet Isaiah's message to Israel:
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 40:18-19.
Church, we need to embrace the urgency and responsibility of this perspective. Granted, we need to be creative, wise, and loving in how we open up and love our community. But we cannot sit on our hands and wait, we cannot wait for Cornerstone to hire our next youth and children's directors. We cannot wait for our government to tell us we can open up our buildings and programs. NOW IS THE TIME.
MANTRA #2 - WE ARE OPEN TO LOVE
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
After Paul writes about the urgency of the situation and also the struggle that the Church has faced (go back and read vs. 4-10); he exhorts the Church to "widen your hearts!" In other words: open up! Now, please don't take this as a call to open up our buildings and programs and get back to the way we used to do things, while I would love to do that, I think that would be twisting the Scriptures to say something that Paul is not saying. You see, Paul cares about our hearts, he is exhorting the Church to open their hearts. opening our hearts is sacrificial, humble, honest, vulnerable...it runs against our individualistic tendency to bunker up and protect ourselves, or put out a vibe that we got it all together and we don't need support.
We must ask ourselves, "Is my heart open or closed?"
We must be a Church of people who have "opened wide their hearts". Not just because this is what followers of Jesus do, but most importantly, because this is what our King and Savior, Jesus has done for us. We remember that at "just the right time Jesus opened his heart to us so that we could be adopted as children of God!
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children (Galatians 4:4-5)
SO HOW CAN CORNERSTONE EMBRACE THIS MANTRA?
This is the question that our leadership team will be continuing to ask as we navigate this pandemic. It seems to me right now that we must be thinking in terms of small groups of 10 or less and outside ministries...it's time to get creative! My hope is that we would pray, plan, and create opportunities together for our Church and community to continue to experience the grace and peace of Jesus on earth as it in heaven!
At this particular time, we are asking, how can we be open to love in our children and youth ministry? As many of you know, Cornerstones children and youth staff are in transition. Both of our youth directors (Mekelle and C.J.) and children's director (Courtney) are in the process of pursuing other areas of ministry. We have posted the job descriptions on our website and started the processes of looking for who God may be calling to lead these ministries. But these processes take time, and as I stated earlier, we believe now is the time to be open to love! So, I would like to rally the troops and ask you to consider joining a team of volunteers from our church who can lead our children and youth ministries together. I believe the first step to getting our children and youth ministries opened back up is having a meeting to determine what we can do and who is willing to contribute. We will be having two separate zoom meetings to get the ball rolling and see who would like to be a part of this exciting opportunity. Here is the info for the meetings:
- Youth Ministry zoom planning meeting: August 13, 6:30pm
- Meeting ID: 852 8977 1736
- Children's Ministry zoom planning meeting: August 19, 6:30pm.
- Meeting ID: 820 8579 9114