Hearing the Music

Results filtered by “Andrew VanderMaas”

Hard Candy

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I remember as a kid getting my church candy, right before the sermon would start. One of my favorites, that we only had occasionally because the wrappers were too loud, was the Anise candy. I loved the Anise candy because I could suck on it slowly and it continued to give good flavor right through the sermon! In many ways this is a picture of what we get as we continue to hold the hard candy of the Word in our hearts and minds soaking in its flavor. As we return to Romans (this week chapter 12:1-2), this call to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, testing and approving the will of God, his good, acceptable and pleasing will, requires that we extract the juices of God’s Word, savoring every bit.

To help us savor God’s Word our sermon study team* is going to be providing 5 days of additional hard candy to be enjoyed following each sermon in our By Mercy series on Romans 12-16. Each devotional will take a small part of the larger text for further reflection and prayer. In many ways these devotional offerings will expand on (and replace) the questions for further thought/discussion that we have been providing recently and will be attached to the Friday letter. If you would like to have the devotional emailed to you daily, Monday- Friday, signup here. In addition to personal growth or reflection, these short reflections could be used in families for growth/reflection, in C-Groups as a basis for discussion/prayer, or you could use them with a co-worker or neighbor for Bible study. However they are used, we want to take the Word, allow it to dwell richly within us, so that by testing we can discern the will of God.

As we continue our life together don’t forget our plans to move inside. This Sunday evening we would love to invite a socially distanced, full-house to experiment with the service we have planned. If you are able to make it, we anticipate the service will be of great value in working out some bugs for the following week. Next week all the offerings will be in place, including: Home Worship Guide, Indoor Worship (please RSVP), and we will continue to transmit to car radios in the parking lot. I want to highlight the parking lot, lest it get overlooked. For those concerned about going in the building but desiring to get out of the house and see some others, pull your car up, tune in to 90.1FM and worship along with the community inside. We will all close with some singing outside, around the island.

It has been a challenging season as we figure out our life together in the midst of present realities. May we all continue to rest in the mercies of God and may we find our hearts and minds renewed!

 

Photo by Customerbox on Unsplash

Transitions

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As we continue to make our way through the fall season, I want to note a couple of transitions with you. First, this Sunday will be the last for Pastor Bryant & Jennifer with us! He will be opening God’s Word to Philippians 1:3-11. There is a light refreshment time scheduled for following the 10:30 service. I know that you will want to share your well wishes with them and commemorate this transition together.

Second, as the weather transitions and our beloved outdoor services become more unstable, indoor services will resume in the evening (6:00pm) on Sept. 27 and then in the morning of October 4 with a full slate of four services that day (8:30AM, 10:00AM, 11:30AM and 6:00PM). These services--all the same--will be by registration. While we are excited to return indoors, it has been good to have been reminded that church is more than a building and worship happens in many different forms. We have also been reminded that loving our neighbor means to seek their physical safety as well as to pursue their psychological, relational, and emotional well being. Worship and continuing to come together are important parts of loving one another.

So how do we do this? Currently the best practices to maintain a healthy environment are to wear masks indoors and maintain social distancing. Borrowing from regulations being used in higher education we have determined that the square footage of our sanctuary allows for around 120 worshippers with appropriate distancing. In order to continue to be welcoming for visitors we will be reserving seats for visitors and for CC folks who forgot to register or had a change of plans. People will be strategically seated to maintain distancing, and ushers will be available to assist with seating needs. You are encouraged to bring your own PPE – there will also be face masks available at the door. We are designating our 8:30AM service as especially appropriate for immunocompromised and/or vulnerable individuals and ask that everyone who attends that service to be particularly conscientious about mask wearing. As noted above, these "best practices" are currently being followed by other congregations and higher education institutions gathering large groups.

While we are confident in our ability to worship safely, we understand that not everyone has the same needs. To accommodate as many as possible, we will continue to prepare and post the Home Worship Guide on the website. In addition, we are also planning to transmit a worship service that is being conducted inside the building to the parking lot via FM 90.1 for those who wish to remain in their cars. The Session encourages everyone to follow their conscience, respect the consciences of others, and take responsibility for your own health needs. As we move forward, we will continually assess how best to call the congregation to worship and provide the means for us all to respond to that call.

Transitions are not always easy. I am grateful for the numbers of people that have contributed to thinking this particular transition through. You can find a whole list of Q&A here. I encourage you to check it out.

 

Photo by Oliver Hihn on Unsplash

Practicing the Resurrection

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NBA Hall of Fame Allen Iverson once famously and somewhat derisively went on and on talking about “practice" in a press conference saying, "Practice. We talking about practice. Not a game. We talking about practice.”

It doesn’t matter what your vocation or avocation is, practice is crucial to success. The same thing is true when it comes to following Jesus and His call to honor your parents or love your enemies; these things take practice. It is also true of scriptural truths, like the resurrection; it takes practice. I borrowed this idea from Wendell Berry in his poem entitled Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front which encourages a counter-cultural practice of resurrection. Berry specifically encourages a life that swims upstream of culture; a belief in resurrection that when practiced produces things like grace, laughter and joy, even in the face of death. It is a practiced belief that affirms the cross wasn’t a defeat reversed in the resurrection, but rather the cross was the victory confirmed by the bursting forth of the body! Practicing resurrection is the galvanizing of body and soul to live a life of hope even while in exile.

So why are we talking about resurrection and exile? Because this week we come to the last of our studies in the life of Elisha (Check out 2 Kings 13:14-25). Written for God’s people in exile, the lives of both Elijah and Elisha have been repeatedly on display so that we would know that God does not abandon His people. As the ministry of these two amazing prophets comes to an end, we are encourage to see through them to THE prophet who puts the exclamation point on all that they prefigure. While Elisha’s bones bring life to one, Jesus bursts forth to bring life to all enfolded into Him.

So yes, Mr. Iverson. Yes we are. "We talking about PRACTICE.” 

Practice resurrection! 

 

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

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