Good Saturday Afternoon Grace Family!
We have now made it through another week of social distancing and are coming up on our third Sunday of live-streaming the morning worship service. How strange it is that we can see one another in the grocery store but not in our normal meeting place! Being apart has intensified my hunger to be with you in person; I hope it is doing the same for you.
I want to share with you some encouraging thoughts from John 16:32-33. Jesus, preparing his disciples for his arrest and crucifixion, made a stark indication that they would turn tail and forsake him in his darkest hour. It is striking how he described what they would do. Our circumstances give a whole other slant to what he said: “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone” (John 16:32).
In the midst of the current crisis, we have been scattered, each to our own homes. The factors affecting us differ from what scattered the disciples. The disciples went to their home to hide. They were afraid of what might happen to them because of their connection with Jesus. Meanwhile, we are not “safer-at-home” out of fear for what might happen to us because of our association with Jesus. We are sheltering at home in submission to our civil leaders, who are not asking us to disobey God. They are not asking us to disown Christ. They are not forbidding us from preaching. Our own governor has made churches an exception to the order under specific conditions. We are not being commanded never to meet again. The stated motive of both Republican and Democrat, whether well-advised or ill-advised, is ultimately to spare as many vulnerable lives as possible. To comply with this intent is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
But while we are “scattered, each to our own homes,” let us not leave Jesus alone. Do not forsake the Lord. Grace Community Church is still meeting!! Thank God that virtual means have enabled us to virtually be together. It is not the same, to be sure. But technology has been God’s special gift for these days. And for those in our body without technological resources, we have been trying to keep them connected in other ways. The office has a list of sheep without technological connections. An opportunity for ministry exists for those who would reach out and encourage them. Please call the office to find out who you can encourage.
Speaking of encouragement, notice what Jesus said next to the disciples. “You . . . will leave me alone. Yet, I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” During these days of staying-at-home, if you are Christ’s follower, you can be just as sure that he is with you as Jesus was sure that the Father was with him. He was abandoned by his own followers but not by His Father. And you may feel alone, but Jesus has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Why did Jesus warn the disciples they would be scattered like this? In the very next verse, (John 16:33) he explains, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Take heart, brothers and sisters, Jesus has overcome the world. Rest in him.
Remember the opportunities to connect with each other tomorrow. Use Zoom to meet for Bible study and prayer at 9 am. We are aware of the fact that some persons around the country have made nuisances of themselves through the misuse of ZOOM. Some changes will be coming for Learning and Leaning on Wednesday to protect us from unwanted intrusions. However, you should enter the meeting tomorrow morning as usual.
For YOUTUBE livestream of the service, click HERE. For facebook livestream, click HERE.
For tomorrow's bulletin with song sheet and sermon outline, click HERE.
Looking forward to be seen tomorrow. God bless you and make his face to shine upon you. May the Lord give you peace.
Pastor Ross Layne