From Your Pastor, March 31

From Your Pastor, March 31

Good News in Action

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to God your father.”

Matthew 5:16

While many are fixated only on matters that could be classified as bad news, we are also seeing many cases of good news put into action. For the last week, I’ve been seeking to collect a few items below (and there are more) that illustrate how folks can use this unusual time.

  • One family in our church with four children gathers after supper for a backyard game of kickball. The kids love it. Family times may be improving, due to sheltering in place.
  • Another family in our church, which has been self-quarantining, similarly gathers outside after dinner for an hour of fresh air and discussion. Their health is good. Families are discovering some great patterns.
  • Another church member sent me this, from a neighbor who is on the functioning autistic spectrum:  “Dear M******, I want to offer you some encouragement during this difficult time. When you feel like you’re in total spiritual warfare because of these external forces shutting everything down . . . God loves you infinitely more than you realize, and even in the midst of one of the darkest times we have experienced in our lifetimes, He is working towards a bright future that He envisions. God provides us everything that we need, and He knows our heart. He could easily end this pandemic with a snap of His mighty fingers, but He chooses not to, because there’s a reason and a purpose for why He lets things like this happen. Turn to your friend, your brother, your sister, your spouse, and tell them how much you care about them and to not be afraid. God is with us to the end of the line.”
  • Good news also that we were able to broadcast the good news this Sunday. Our young pastors and techies figured out a way around the SermonAudio glut @ 11:00 AM. We had very few reports of reception outage and were blessed to proclaim the Word.
  • Almost two weeks ago, our deacons offered to deliver groceries to Seniors and not a single member of Midway has requested help thus far. Clark Smith and others are ready; so please don’t do without. Thankfully, most of our families are fine on food supplies.
  • I was thankful for an Atlanta condo community that gave a rousing, long ovation for local hospital personnel at shift change, when brave medical workers left. Nice.
  • I am so impressed with the Chattanooga school system (yes, Ava attends Westside Elementary). Rather than laying off bus drivers and cafeteria workers, and realizing that some homes are on the edge, they deliver take-out meals from select school cafeterias along the bus routes, three days a week. That’s both caring and economically smart.
  • To God’s praise, we’ve not had a death in our congregation since February—and funerals would be hardly recognizable—and our congregation has been spared major illnesses or hospitalizations. Please keep praying about this.
  • And even though “virtual” is no substitute for “real” (see link below to Rebecca McLaughlin’s fine essay), thankfully we are able to stay in touch by phone, MailChimp emails, website, texts, and Zoom, etc.
  • As for me and my household, if I have to shelter-in-place, it sure is nice to shelter with someone I love, who is as wonderful as Ann.

I’m sure you’ve seen many others instances like this. Why don’t each of you start a list and share it with you family or others at the end of this week?

And perhaps God will change churches by the droves away from inward-focused, critical-spirited, discouraging, petty fault-finders . . . into incubators of love, encouragement, commendation, and wholesome speech.

Or in the words of one of Wanda Robinson’s kindergartners quoting the HHSV: “Do all things without crumbling or complaining . . . in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Phil. 2:14-15, Hayden Hall Standard Version).

There are, actually, some great examples of people letting their light shine before men and not covering the light with a bushel basket.

Are you a good news herald?

We are not adherents, after all, of the kakangel (bad news; the opposite of evangel, which term does not even occur in the Greek NT). So join us in spreading some good news this week. Might help you, as well as others you know.

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COMING THIS WEEK . . .
            By midweek, we plan to resume several ongoing bible studies that any may join.

  • On Wednesday night at 6:30 PM our study of “Temptations of our Time: Has God Said?” will resume with this week’s topic of “Social Media and Your Witness.” Look for the details on our website and join us. And catch up with our past episodes of this (and other)

series at: https://vimeo.com/user10385038.

  • And Thursday at 12:30 the Men’s Bible Study on Leviticus will resume on our Vimeo channel—just click the link there when it goes live. If you’ve not been with us for this study, you might be surprised at how relevant it is. Sorry, there’s no way to have digital fried Chicken.
  • Get the MailChimp daily devotional and stay current on all events.

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I also recommend a great piece by Rebecca Mclaughlin, which makes the point that many of you are sensing: https://www.rebeccamclaughlin.org/single-post/2020/03/22/Like-lovers-parted-by-war

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Note: the word “quarantine” is derived from the Italian word “quaranta,” which means “forty,” a common biblical period of time. Venetians first coined this term during a severe plague to quarantine arriving merchants off-shore for 40 days—the period chosen from Christ’s 40 day fast in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry, which was thought sufficient to disinfect diseases.

Errata: In my sermon Sunday, I incorrectly attributed a modern ‘Screwtape Letter’ to what I thought was an authentic C. S. Lewis one.  Lo and behold, a few sharp Midway members found that it was a more recent paraphrase. Rev. Aaron Michael Neilson, a Lutheran pastor in Colorado, however, deserves the credit: https://www.facebook.com/stpaulsdurango/photos/a.687677907943659/3208509755860449/?type=1&theater

– Pastor Hall