By Pastor Dan Clemens
I wish I had a crystal ball to see what was in the future. If we had looked into a crystal ball in January 2020 we wouldn’t believe what we were seeing.
I have come to appreciate the words of Jesus on a deeper level… “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25, 33-34)
In the same vein James says, Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:13-17)
The news this morning (July 23) reported surges in cases of the virus, mask orders, and Dr. Anthony Fauci said that we may not even be at the half way point of the pandemic. I know, you , like me, are tired of hearing and thinking about it. But how I feel doesn’t change anything. This is where we are.
So, what do I see in my crystal ball going forward?
1. God is still God and He will not leave us or forsake us! The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are still active in the church and our personal lives. The Bible is still God’s Word and His truths are still standing. We need not fear.
2. COVID protocols are with us to stay. Social distancing (6 feet means 6 feet), mask wearing, handwashing, small groups are all going to be with us for the next six months or more.
3. Social media and virtual gatherings are a fixture of the new society. Even after the pandemic is over, virtual ministry will have a prominent role for the church.
4. We must envision new ways to come together safely. I encourage us to find ways to gather in small groups in a healthy way. That means following all of the COVID protocols every time we gather no matter the group. That means focusing on virtual or smaller group gatherings, not the large gatherings we often push for. That means when our building renovation is completed, we design smaller groups per room and spread out more. Outreach, discipleship, missions, fellowship, stewardship are all part of the walk of Christ and we must find ways to continue to live our faith daily.
These adaptations will take making choices to do a new thing, effort, focus, intentionality, and vigilance.
I believe it is a matter of our faith. We must find ways to be a witness for Christ and a community for discipleship during these difficult times. The writer of Hebrews, through the Holy Spirit, urges us Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
I am reminded that these words were written to a church who felt like giving up because of persecution and threat of life. Our situation in not as dire. It is our time to step up, muster our resolve, and find a way to be the Church of Jesus Christ to nurture our faith and the faith of our children and families, and to share the gospel with our neighbors and community.
That’s what I see in my crystal ball about our future for the next six months and more. We can do this together with God being our help.