Church Service Update
Dear Church Family,
These are extraordinary times. It feels like everything in life has changed in just a few days -- everything from our workplace to getting groceries to visiting friends to future plans to even gathering as a church.
In this changing world, good to know that some things never change. Psalm 91:15-16 reminds us:
God still answers when we call to him
God still promises to be with us in trouble
God has rescued us from our greatest danger and is still present to rescue
God will richly bless those who trust and follow him
God has given us eternal life and an unshakeable future hope in Christ
Therefore we can say with the Psalmist, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (91:2). Where we put our hope and trust in does not change during these times. Rather, we only see how trustworthy and sure that hope truly is at times like these.
I want to ask that you read the whole letter here, but I’ll warn you, it’s not short! We as a church want to equip every member and friend of our church with tools, help, and resources for this changing season. Our deep desire is that we press in to the Lord together in this season, press in to fellowship with each other, and press in to opportunities to shine the light of Jesus in our city.
Recently, the CDC guidelines changed to recommend no more than 10 people gather in one place, along with other very clear guidelines for safety during this season. Find much more information here on the CDC website, including how to protect yourself and what to do if you feel sick. We want to encourage our whole church to follow the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC as well as local and state laws because the government is given for our good, to promote and protect life (Romans 13). In light of that we’ve made the sad, but necessary, decision to cancel all church gatherings for at least the next 8 weeks, with the real possibility this may continue longer. This includes Sunday services, community groups, in-person Women's Bible studies, etc. There’s a real sense of loss for me in even writing that, but my prayer is that the Lord would only grow our affection for one another and for our gatherings and life together during this season. May we come back together all the more eagerly once this has passed and we’re able to meet again.
But this does not mean that church life will stop. Far from it.
You’re Invited to Join us for our Sunday Gathering!
While we cannot gather in person we want to invite you to join us online this Sunday at 10:30am. While no virtual meeting can replace our normal service, a virtual service can be a gift in this season. In fact, for this next season, I’m happy that we’ll all be back one service together!
Our plan is to provide a one hour service on our Facebook page every Sunday at 10:30am. Jon Vogan will lead us in worship and one of us will preach the word. We’ll also do Scripture readings and share important updates on our church family and life. While you’ll be able to watch the service later I want to encourage you to join us live right at 10:30am. I believe the Lord will meet us as we sing together, pray together, and hear the word together. I’ve already heard from several people who had to stay home last week that they felt the Lord meet them as they watched and prayed with us. This Sunday we’re going to look at Psalm 121 together and will be providing a guide with song lyrics and readings that you can follow online or print out for yourself.
And as you’re watching, comment to let us know you’re watching live. We’ll say hi as we see people comment! If you’re able, post a picture of yourself or your family gathering using the hashtag #cantstopCOG. (Because Jesus promised that no one and nothing will stop His church in Matt 16:18!) It’ll be great to see pictures of others gathering and it’ll also serve to let friends and family know they can tune in as well.
Our Kids Ministry Director Teresa will also be providing some great resources and helps for kids on our kids ministry page online. In the days to come, we’ll add more encouragement and help, including a video to help parents lead their kids in Bible study. We are also planning some fun surprises for families in the Easter season as time goes on so stay tuned.
Let’s Stay Connected and Growing In this Season
While typical Community Group activities can’t happen in person we are encouraging each community group to find creative ways to stay connected. For example, my group is going to do an online meetup this week where we’ll share updates and prayer requests. Other groups might create a schedule of calling to check on one another. Whatever your group does, embrace it! And if you’re not currently in a group but want to participate you can still sign up here.
In addition to that we believe we have some unique opportunities to press in to the Lord together, continuing to care for people and equip them:
We’re desiring to start a group or class online for people who are dealing with anxiety. Some may find that this situation is suddenly creating anxiety while others may find their issues worse because of this crisis. We’d love to provide biblical encouragement. Sign up to be notified and invited to the group and online calls.
We’re also desiring to equip parents for this unique season. We’re planning to provide some principles and resources to parents and then an online teaching time. Having everyone at home in close quarters can create some challenges to work through but also provides some unique opportunities to grow as a family. Sign up here to receive a weekly email that will include resources, videos, and lessons!
We also plan to continue offering classes such as our recent class on Bible reading and prayer. These classes will be conducted online with some supplementary resources provided online and we’ll let you sign up online for each one. We’ll also finish our last Membership Class (watch for an email if you’re in the class!). Growing in your knowledge of the Lord and his Word is a great way to take advantage of our extra time home.
We Want to Continue to Care for One Another
One challenge we will face is that so many care and counsel updates happen on Sunday morning as we see one another. On any given Sunday we ask, “How are you doing?” to several people. That means we’ll all need to be much more intentional reaching out to other members with phone calls, texts, and messages. Let’s even plan some time on Sunday morning to catch up with people.
We as pastors and leaders are also available for care and counseling. Our goal in the next couple of weeks will be to check in with as many folks from the church as we possibly can. If you find yourself in need of counsel please reach out. And if you are experiencing something difficult, or are under strict quarantine we want to know and want to help practically and spiritually. Please let one of us as pastors know individually or just call or email the church office.
In this season prayer is more important than ever. We’re also working on a private page where we’ll be able to list prayer requests from our church and keep it updated often so we all know the latest needs of the church and can be in prayer for one another. We’ll let you know as soon as it's ready but let us know if you have a prayer request in the meantime.
We Need Your Help and Ideas
This situation is new for all of us and we know that we need the involvement and ideas of the whole body. So do you have a great idea for how we as the church can serve our members and our neighbors in the city during this time? Let us know!
Look to the Lord, Church
As my family has been dealing with our health trial in our family I’ve become very aware that I’m constantly looking around for sources of help: a news article, a funny video to take my mind off this, a better set of lab reports. And none of them ultimately help on the deepest level. That’s why this is such good news:
 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
The help our heart needs in this season comes from the Lord, our maker, and sustainer. He is our keeper. He doesn’t sleep. He will hold us fast.
See you Sunday,
-Ricky, on behalf of the elders of Cross of Grace Church
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