Dear Saints in the Lord,
Amen! We are finally able to come together for worship and Bible studies after almost 3 months. I don’t know what this experience has been like for any of you, but as for me this time of separation has been a real test of my abilities as a Pastor. It has been a difficult process for me to stay connected with the members of our congregation. Certainly, there has been the opportunity to provide online worship services, which is something we had already been doing for the last 3 years. We have also had access to the blessings of telephones and computers, where we are able to make phone calls, send text messages, type e-mails, and even do live conversations via Zoom and Skype. Yet, for me there is nothing better than face to face interaction. I am a people person, something I hope you have all grown to appreciate and understand. My first and foremost preference for visiting with people is in person and in real time.
Jesus was the type of person who also thrived on in person, hands on ministry. During Jesus’ earthly ministry He conveyed His love for others by the way He interacted with them. Time and time again He would heal people by touching them, whether it was their shriveled hand, their blind eyes, their rotted skin, or a gentle hand on their head. Jesus was all about making a personal connection.
Jesus also enjoyed sharing in worship and the study of Holy Scripture with people in person. This is evident as He traveled from town to town preaching, teaching, and praying among those who were His close disciples, followers, and audiences. Jesus had the divine gift of being able to look into a person’s eyes and see their soul. It might be a little difficult to do that through a card, letter, e-mail, phone call, or text message. There is no substitute for real presence and Jesus proved it to be true, by being born in the flesh and dwelling among us, where He lived, suffered, died, rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven, as our Savior. If having that kind of personal contact with others is the example Jesus left us, I pray we can follow His lead!
We are once again entering into a new month. So what is going on at Emmanuel? First of all, we will continue to gather for worship each Sunday. In fact we are planning an outdoor worship service on July 12th. We will be having a more contemporary style of service with our Praise Team leading us in song. You can bring your own chair or there will be chairs provided. We are going to be meeting on Sunday morning, as we continue our Bible study on the Gospel of Matthew. We will also be meeting on Saturday morning to wrap up our Lutheran Hour Ministry study on “Called”, as well as on Wednesday morning to finish up our study of Hebrews. Please plan to join us as we come together to delve into God’s Holy Word.
The Fourth of July is also upon us. What a wonderful time for us, as citizens of this blessed nation, to be able to celebrate the freedoms we have been privileged to enjoy. At a time when our country seems to be experiencing anger, chaos, and division, may you and I be the kind of Christ-centered, positive example our country desperately needs right now. Happy Fourth of July as you figuratively and literally light up the world around you!
Now that we are beginning to move towards a more active way of life at Emmanuel, I am sure the Lord will continue to present ministry opportunities to us. As those situations come up, and as you feel more comfortable in getting out, I hope each of you will look at ways to get involved in the work the Lord is placing before our congregation. Many hands truly do make the work light! And besides, there is no greater joy than serving our Almighty God.
Please pray for our nation and its citizens at this time of upheaval. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”. Proverbs 14:34