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Virtual Worship Sunday 3/22/2020

Dear Christ Pres family,

     As we prepare to worship together tomorrow in a very different way, I ask us all to pause some time this evening or tomorrow morning to spend some devoted time in prayer.  As Dr. Gordon reminded us last Sunday, it’s a good idea every week to prepare our hearts to worship the Lord on Sunday mornings, and this week especially, as we navigate trying to gather from a distance, we need the Lord’s help.  In addition to your own prayers and lifting up the ongoing needs you are aware of, here are a few things you could lift up to the Lord for the good of the church:

  1. Ask the Lord to quiet our hearts and enable us to rest in Him, that we might worship Him from a place of trust and dependence, but not of fear.  Thankfully, if we are afraid, whether of sickness, the economic impact of forced “social distancing”, or of anything else, we can bring our fears to Him, too.  Remember that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
  2. Ask the Lord for protection from sickness for yourselves, for your loved ones, and especially for those who are most vulnerable.  Remember that as we continue to pray for recovery and help for people like Linda, Bobbi, and Iain, they also have the added burden of a reduced-capacity immune system during this time.  Remember also the babies in our midst: Genevieve B., Sophia J., and the little one being carried by Liz J.  Let us not forget that the Lord is sovereign even over viruses and is able to protect those who ask.  Our asking doesn’t guarantee that He will do it, but how foolish would it be if we practiced perfect hand washing techniques and social distancing but forgot to pursue the most powerful force in the universe against infection?  Our faith is revealed by what we place our trust in, so trust in the Lord, and ask for His hand of protection and healing.
  3. Pray that the Lord would continue to provide for His people.  Many people are losing jobs, whether temporarily or permanently, or facing the prospect of losing entire businesses.  Pray that the Lord would sustain His people through this challenging time.  Pray also that He would provide for His church.  When we don’t meet physically to pass around the offering bags, it can be easy for people to forget to continue to give to support the ministry of the church, which continues feverishly behind the scenes, caring for the sick, the proud, the fearful, those with Spiritual and physical needs - in short, everyone - all while trying to navigate an entirely new and unprecedented model of ministry.  Pray that the Lord would sustain the church’s leadership, and that He would provide for that ministry to continue.
  4. Pray for healing for those who are sick.  James 5:16
  5. Pray for our students, professors, teachers, and all the staff and administration at our educational institutions who are trying to change their entire mode of education with little to no notice.  Pray especially for students who are forced to remain at home in difficult situations, that the Lord would watch over them and provide relief from the pain and heartache that they find at home.
  6. Pray for Zach and Jessica as they prepare for their wedding, which will no longer be allowed to have any guests.
  7. Pray for everyone’s mental health in this extended time of isolation.  We are created for community, and as much as it can be funny to joke about how introverts love social restrictions, we are all going to be feeling the effects of these restrictions, if we aren’t already.  Some people are going to feel them very acutely.  Pray that the Lord would remind us of His truth and provide tangible expressions of His presence with us, that we might not feel alone.
  8. Lift up those in authority being tasked with making decisions that affect others.  That includes the obvious like President Trump, Governor Wolf, and local, state, and federal legislative bodies, but it also includes business owners, non-profit boards, and many more who want to provide for their employees and those they serve, but who also need to be wise and loving to their communities in the face of a pandemic.  These decisions are far from easy, and they need wisdom from on high.
  9. Also thank God for those continuing to work in “life-sustaining” enterprises like medicine, food production, distribution, and preparation, transportation of the things we need, utilities, repairs, and more, including several people in our own congregation, and intercede on their behalf for strength in the midst of an increased demand for their talents and services.

After having spent some time in prayer, let us rejoice that while our physical gatherings may be limited in this time, the Lord has provided that we can still continue to gather as a body for worship via the internet.  As I mentioned in a previous email, I’m thankful that during this time of increased isolation, we get the chance to remember that the church is so much bigger than we usually see, and that we are united by faith with believers all over the world.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to get to experience a little more unity with them as we join different ARP churches for virtual worship on Sunday mornings.

 

This week, we’re worshiping with one of the churches in our presbytery: Church of the Atonement in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Being a church “inside the beltway” of Washington DC, they have a great ministry to a diverse group of people.  Their worship services also look and sound a lot like ours, so I hope that we can praise the Lord for unity with these brothers and sisters, and that this virtual experience isn’t too jarring.

 

A little bit more about the church so that you can pray for them as well: Senior Pastor Ryan Mowen was just installed as the senior pastor of the church at the beginning of this month.  What a time to lead a new church!  He transferred into the ARP from the EPC, where he had most recently been ministering at a church in Indiana, PA - about an hour and a half from here!  Associate Pastor Terence Little was ordained in the church at the beginning of 2017 and served as the interim senior pastor for about six months until Ryan was found, called, and installed.  They both follow well-loved and long-tenured ministers, and I have heard great things about their ministry amidst what can sometimes be a challenging transition.  Pray for them and their ministry in Silver Spring, as well as for their preparation to lead us in worship tomorrow morning.  They are both new to streaming services (as are most, if not all, churches we will be joining), having had their first streamed service last Sunday.

 

Here are the details:

The service starts at 9:30.  I realize that the time is 30 minutes earlier than most of us are used to attending a Sunday worship service, but since we don’t have to change out of our pajamas or go anywhere, we probably don’t have to wake up any earlier than we normally would.  Grab a cup of tea or coffee, gather your family and any guests around, and click http://www.atonementlife.org/service-live-stream.html.  You can find the bulletin for the service here.  If you are a few minutes early, you will get to hear their pianist playing a prelude, just like at Christ Pres.

 

As I mentioned in the other email, sing along with the music; pray along during the times of prayer; listen to the sermon just like you would if we were gathering in person.  We will be worshiping together, even though we can’t see each other.  In a very real sense, we do this every week with brothers and sisters around the world.  This week, we get to see what it looks like in one of their services as we join with them virtually to worship our one God and Redeemer.

 

We will miss being able to share in the Lord’s Supper together, and we pray that we are able to resume physical gatherings soon so that we can celebrate that sacrament together, along with the fellowship the Lord has given us with each other.  Almost every other aspect of our worship, though, we can continue, albeit in limited fashion.  That includes the giving of our gifts and offerings to the Lord.  As we make it part of our regular worship to give of our money a portion of what the Lord has given to us, for His work of building His church in Grove City and around the world, we can continue to do that virtually, as well.  I know a few of you have already asked me how to do this.  Praise the Lord for your faithful concern for the ongoing ministry of the church!

Here is how you can continue to give to support the ministry of Christ Presbyterian Church in this time:

  1. You can give online via credit card or PayPal.  Go to www.christgrovecity.org/donate to give individual gifts or to set up monthly, recurring giving so that you don’t forget.
  2. You can send a physical check to Christ Presbyterian Church, Attn: Treasurer, PO Box 573, Grove City, PA  16127
  3. You can send payment directly through your bank’s “online bill-pay” function.  Use the address from the second option if they ask.

 Know that the elders and I are praying for you constantly.  Please remember to reach out with any specific prayer requests or needs, whether for yourself or someone else.  If we’re drawn in this time into better habits of prayer and communicating needs, then that is one bit of good that the Lord may work through this very strange and serious time.

 

I miss seeing all of you already, but I look forward to praying with you for God’s peace, provision, and protection, and to worshiping with you tomorrow morning at 9:30.

 

In Him,

Jonathan

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