|Technology has been such a gift these past eight months. The ease with which folks can record themselves reading scripture, praying, teaching, and sharing has enabled widespread participation and connection in our online services. Michael Linder and the musicians have created amazing music that encourages us and enables us to worship.|
But we longed for an in-person connection. Champaign County positivity rates were low. Testing was easily available, yielding results in 24 hours.
But you should talk in a way that is consistent with sound teaching. Titus 2:1 (CEB)
Weighing the data, listening to the health department’s recommendations, installing additional safety measures enabled us to add an in-person option. The joy of worshiping together- even masked at distance- was precious.
Instead of the pandemic easing, it has worsened. Champaign County positivity rates rocketed. Our Region is in mitigation. Test results take days instead of hours.
Offer yourself as a role model of good actions. Show integrity, seriousness, and a sound message that is above criticism when you teach, so that any opponent will be ashamed because they won’t find anything bad to say about us. Titus 2:7-8 (CEB)
I am not sure this is personally possible, but it seems like a good goal. I know that I can’t completely control my own safety and that of everyone around me; though I try!
Sunday, I said that the twin god of control is anxiety. I forgot blame- both of self and of other. We comfort ourselves with stories of how other people’s carelessness (in contrast to us) resulted in their downfall.
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. Titus 2:11-12 (CEB)
Leaning on God’s grace, I believe the the most sensible choice for our lives now is to return to online worship only. Meanwhile, I will keep choosing to reject the rhetoric of anxiety, blame, and control. Those ABCs are temptation, not salvation.
At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus the Messiah. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions. Titus 2:13-14 (CEB)
We wait. We are eager to do good actions. Perhaps today you can encourage someone. Pick up the phone, send an email, set up an online meetup. If you can make someone smile, or even laugh, what a gift that would be! We need each other more than ever. The strength to choose church, to continue on separately in hope, cannot be taken for granted.
Everyone with me greets you; greet those who love us faithfully. Grace be with all of you. Titus 3:15 (CEB)