It is difficult for me to believe that we are at the end of July. While the idea of time passing quickly is a cliche, I have to admit that during this season shaped so much by the threat of COVID-19 my sense of time has been distorted. Days, as they appear in my rear view mirror, are actually further away than they appear in my mind’s eye. Perhaps one reason for this is that many of the weekly and daily rhythms that I have developed over time have been disrupted.
As I think about this, my warped sense of time, it makes me all the more thankful for the opportunity we have to gather again for worship each Lord’s Day. God, who designed us, and knows how we function best, has declared that we to be re-calibrated each week. He created a rhythm for us, that one day of every seven, specifically the first day of each week, we are to cease from our regular labors and routines, and gather for worship in his presence, through which we can experience a renewal in his grace. What a gift the Lord’s Day is, from God to us!
Writing this note I am mindful that while our need of the Lord’s Day is the same for all of our present experiences of the Lord’s Day are not the same for all. The continued threat of the coronavirus makes it unwise for some to risk gathering. While it is a delight to see those who are able to gather each week, I miss seeing the faces (or the top half of faces, since we are all wearing masks!) of those whom wisdom dictates you remain home on Sundays. I’m hopeful we’ll be reunited in person sometime relatively soon.
In the mean time, while we are hindered from all being gathered, we can be thankful to God for his provision of technology. Historians tell us it has been over 100 years, longer than any of our lifetimes, since the Church in the USA has endured anything like we have been experiencing. But this time, though providentially prohibited from congregating, we are still able to keep connected through the gift of the Internet. I know, not a new thought. But I have been particularly thankful recently for the gift of the Internet and the ability to LiveStream. Why am I particularly thankful now, as compared to other times? I’m not sure. It may be because in thinking this week of the things we are addressing and improving I have been reminded of what a blessing it has been to have what we already have.
I again want to express particular thanks to Tim Nargi and Jeff Field. Tim and Jeff have spent hours considering what we need, securing the necessary tools, and then working out the kinks in our LiveStream. Most recently Jeff has tackled some issues with the sound, so that those at home – which is the majority each week – can get as much of the sanctuary experience as possible. We also appreciate those of you who have kindly pointed out some of the areas that need improvement. No doubt we’ll still have some hiccups from time to time, but as you have opportunity please join me in giving thanks to these two men – and to the team they are developing to run the cameras and sound.
Related to our LiveStream services, we have been made aware of some confusion in securing the tools for worship, and that others have been unsure where to find the link to view the LiveStream. Let me take a moment to try to clear up these questions. Each week a digital worship outline is posted to the Grace Covenant blog. Embedded into the digital outline is a link to the .pdf, which can be accessed and downloaded by clicking the Date at the top of the page. The link to the LiveStream services are posted on the Grace Covenant homepage. There is a distinct link for each of the 8:30 and 11am services. These links will go live, enabling you to see into the sanctuary, a few minutes prior to any service. For convenience and simplification, the link to the digital worship outline will, from now on, be included on the Grace Covenant homepage, just beneath the links to the LiveStream. These links will also be included in the Grace Notes that go out each Friday afternoon.
Related to this, there has been some question about accessing these Pastoral Notes I began writing a number of weeks ago. I am delighted that these seem to have been well received, and are reportedly considered beneficial to many. While initially this was just intended for the time we were socially distanced, I will continue to make writing a regular practice. These notes have usually been written on Saturday afternoons. During the time we were recording the messages and songs on Saturday mornings, I would sit down after recording to write out the note about the service, and about some upcoming things, etc. For convenience of access, I will try to get this note completed more often on Friday afternoons, so that the link can go out with Grace Notes. However, please understand, there will be many weeks my schedule may not allow for me to finish before Grace Notes is sent out. A separate email will still be necessary. But all pastoral notes can be found on the Grace Covenant blog.
That’s a lot of details. I apologize – unless you are one who is having trouble sleeping. In which case, perhaps reading all that a few times may resolve your problem. 😉
Let me touch quickly on a couple things, then wrap it up.
First, we expect to have the privilege of receiving Madeline Nimmon into church membership tomorrow (July 26). Madeline will be interviewed for membership by two our our Elders between services and, confident of Madeline’s testimony, we plan to receive her immediately after, during the 11am service. This is more expedient than our norm, but Madline’s parents Scott & Lindsay Nimmon, are missionaries in Africa, presently in the states for an unspecified but limited amount of time. It is quite possible that the Nimmons, including Madeline, will need to return to Africa before next week is out (…or we may get to keep them around for a few more weeks.) Once the Nimmons get word, they will have to depart quickly. So… we will be celebrating Madeline joining the church, and her first public profession of her own faith in Jesus Christ, as her only hope for live and for salvation. Please join us in celebrating God’s grace to Madeline, and in praying for God to continue to be at work in this young lade.
Second, it has been said that a better measure of a church’s health than its “seating” capacity is its “sending” capacity. That means that a church’s health should be be measured, in no small part, by the number of church members engaged in mission to the community (and to the world). In coming weeks Habitat for Humanity will begin building a new home here in Williamsburg. We will again have opportunity to participate, and in so doing an opportunity to love one of our neighbors in a very practial way. A number of Grace Covenant members have been involved in previous builds in the Grove area. On Tuesday July 28, Habitat will celebrate the Groundbreaking of this new home. As partners of Habitat Grace Covenant has been invited to participate in the groundbreaking. If you have participated in a past build, and you would like to be among the representatives from Grace Covenant, we’d be delighted for you to do so. The ceremony will be at 10:30, Tuesday July 28, and last about 30 minutes. The addres of the build and ceremony is Forest Heights Road in Williamsburg (near the Outlets). Please wear a mask and practice social distancing. Details about the actual build will be coming in the next few weeks.
As the Apostle Paul once said (at least once said): “I thank my God when I think of you all!”
Grace & Peace,
W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor