Reopening the church building

May 20, 2020

Greetings!


It is with great joy that I write to let you know that we will once again be opening the doors of the church building! As you have heard many times by now, the Church has not been closed, but the building has had restrictions upon it. It still does, but those restrictions allow us to meet again.


This Sunday, May 24th, we will have our scheduled drive in church service at 9:00 a.m. At this special service, we will recognize our graduates, hear a short message that will prepare us to start meeting again, and pray for the upcoming weekend. A separate online service will continue our look into 1 Peter—we will be looking at the joy that comes from our new identity (1 Peter 1:3-12).


Next Sunday, May 31st, we will open the building for worship services at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m. This presents us with a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to his body! At Calvary, we come together to know Christ so that we can go and make him known. I pray that each of us has been taking advantage of any opportunity God has presented in these last few weeks to make him known as we have been going! Now that we consider coming together again, there are a few things to consider.


It will not look the same as it did before the response to the pandemic. We live in a different world. The threat of the virus has caused different people to react in different ways. Some have not been concerned at all and some have been very concerned. Some have not felt vulnerable and some have felt very vulnerable. As the body of Christ, we need to be very careful not to assign maturity in our faith to our response to the virus. Just because one person does not feel as vulnerable does not necessarily mean they have more faith and just because a person is careful and chooses to take precautionary steps, such as wearing a mask, it does not mean they do not have faith. Remember that in the body of Christ (the Church) there are many different parts—and yet, we all form one body. Paul reminds us to love each part of the body and to walk with each other in great unity (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12). So, as we begin meeting again, let us make very sure that we are careful to extend great grace to each other, as I am confident you are ready to do!


What to expect and how to prepare:

As we reopen the church building, certain steps will be taken to assure, as much as possible, that we are reducing the risk of transmission of the virus. We will reopen in stages. Initially, we will reopen for worship services only on Sundays only. We will not be opening the Saturday service, the children’s ministry, or the adult learning opportunities at this time and will keep you informed as decisions about them are made.

Before you arrive, the building will be deep-cleaned, and all public spaces will be sanitized. If you feel very vulnerable but would still like to attend, we recommend that you come to the 9:00 a.m. service. While we will be taking steps to clean the building between services, the deepest cleaning will have occurred before the first service.

As you prepare to arrive, we want to let you know what to expect. Some things will be the same and some things will be different.


Some things will look the same as they did before the closure of the building.

  •  We will be excited to see you!! I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1
  •  Of course, we will still be coming to worship God. The morning will be all about him! We will have greeters at the doors, ushers ready to seat you, a worship team that will be ready to lead us in song as we praise our amazing God, a message from 1 Peter, and a benediction to send you out to a week of work, witness, and worship! We will have the livestream service online for those unable to attend.

Some things will look quite different!

  •  Some people will be wearing masks, and some will not. Extend grace either way!
  •  There will be greeters in the parking lot to assist with any questions you may have before you get to the building.
  •  Doors for the building will open ten minutes before the service time.
  •  The doors will be propped open so that you will not need to touch the handle.
  •  The greeters will be wearing masks and will not be shaking hands. In fact, we ask all people to refrain from shaking hands while in the building.
  •  There will be signs to help you know what is happening. There will not be marks on the floors or arrows or things like that, but there will be reminders of the care that needs to be taken as we reengage with each other.
  •  When you enter the building, we will help you make your way directly to the worship center.
  •  The chairs will be set for appropriate physical distancing. We will be removing about half the chairs. You will also need to leave two chairs between your family group and other people.
  •  You will want to print bulletins and note sheets yourself at home from the link on the website or follow along electronically as hard copies will not be handed out.
  •  Boxes will be available in the lobby where you can give your tithes and offerings, as the offering bag will not be passed.
  •  The service will be shorter (one hour) and will be a family-type service. Since no children’s ministries are happening, we will have the joy of having our children with us in the service!
  •  We will be singing. Now, you may wonder why that is listed under “what is different”! We realize that many of you are ready to get back to singing together in the worship center. What we have learned is that singing raises the risk of transmission of the disease. Therefore, if you feel most vulnerable, you may want to find a seat toward the back of the room.
  •  After the service, we will ask that you immediately leave the building without congregating in the worship center or in the hallways. Please make your way as quickly as possible to the parking lot. This will allow us to clean the room for the next service and will allow for a one-way traffic flow.

Other items of note:

  •  If you are not feeling well, please take advantage of the online services.
  •  Restrooms will have porters who will help ensure cleanliness after use.
  •  Water fountains will be turned off.
  •  Sections of the building will be inaccessible.
  •  Nursery will be open for nursing or changing babies, one at a time.
  •  Sanitizer will be available, as needed.
  •  Elders and shepherding staff will be available outdoors to talk with you and answer any questions you may have.

We look forward to seeing each of you again, as you feel the time is right for you to reengage with live worship. If you are choosing to wait a while, we fully understand and support you in your decision and will continue to bring the service into your home.


Grace,

 

Pastor Chuck

Hebrews tells us not to give up meeting together.
How do we meet together in a time like this?

March 20, 2020

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another
—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25


If you are like me, I would imagine you are beginning to realize there is a new normal. Words and phrases are coming at us at lightning speed. Social distancing, isolation, self-quarantine, flattening the curve—all of these are terms that have special meaning in this pandemic as we take extreme measures to limit the potential outbreak.


During this pandemic and as we live by the rules which are being placed on us and recommended to us, how do we continue to live out the meaning of Hebrews 10:25?


I look so forward to the weekends. On Saturday night and Sunday, I get to be with my brothers and sisters in Christ and we have the opportunity to love on each other and together show our love for the One who is worthy of all our praises. The encouragement that comes into my life when I am together with God’s people is amazing—and I am sure it is for you as well.


That is part of what the author of Hebrews means here. It is important to get together to encourage each other. He is writing to a largely Jewish audience at a time when they have already felt the touch of persecution (10:32-34). They will need to live by faith (10:38), and they will need to stand strong, not shrinking back (10:39). Part of what will help them do that is getting together, encouraging each other—even as the Day approaches.


Therein lies hope and a challenge. The author of Hebrews tells his listeners to encourage each other, as they meet together, with more fervor because the day of the Lord is closer now than it was before. The Day of the Lord’s coming is even closer for us. Jesus is coming again. It will be a time of glory and judgment.


So, back to the question. How do we meet together during the pandemic? Differently than we did before and with even more intentionality and creativity! Start now planning how you can make the worship time special for you and your family. Get ready. Here are some suggestions—think of others on your own! Talk about it with others.


Have Sunday school time with your kids. Prepare your hearts to be together electronically. Have your breakfast ahead of time—or fast from breakfast to prepare your hearts. Don’t watch in your pajamas—get ready, as if you were really together with others. Anticipate the moment that you will watch your service online. Pray with those who are with you before you turn on the live feed. Invite others to your home for this time. We can do this together.


Let us not give up meeting together!!


Pastor Chuck

A proper focus during the pandemic

March 15, 2020

In times of uncertainty, it is important to focus on that which is certain. As followers of Jesus, we must focus our hearts and minds on him and on his plan for our lives and this world. It is true that this pandemic of 2020 is having a tremendous impact on all the things that we have come to trust in. This gives us an opportunity to refocus our trust in the One who is trustworthy. We know that he is sovereign over all things and that this has not taken him by surprise. We need to stand firm. We are not of those who shrink back (Hebrews 10:39). We are ready for this! So, let’s take this time to consider how we can focus ourselves on the truth of who God is and not be carried away by the winds of uncertainty that are all around us.

  • We waste the pandemic if we give way to fear and anxiety instead of resting in the faithfulness of God. He has not given us a spirit of fear. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • We waste the pandemic if we allow it to take our hope. But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. Psalm 71:14
  • We waste the pandemic if we trust in the news we hear instead of trusting in the God who holds the whole world in his hands. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise—in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 56:10-11
  • We waste the pandemic if we spend more time focused on researching the disease and the potential outcomes than we spend time focusing on the Scriptures that declare the faithfulness of God. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4
  • We waste the pandemic if we focus on how it is affecting us instead of the impact it is having on others, looking for ways to reach out and serve. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
  • We waste the pandemic if we do not let the next generation know that we trust in God. I will sing of the LORD'S great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. Psalm 89:1
  • We waste the pandemic if we do not take this time to claim the authority of Jesus over it and seek to make disciples. Our mission has not changed! Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
  • We waste the pandemic if we seek to assign blame or look for reasons outside of ourselves instead of realizing that we are all in need of repentance. Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5 (see also Daniel 9)
  • Finally, we waste the pandemic if we lose heart and focus on the temporary instead of the eternal. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

May we hold tight to the Lord and make him known during these uncertain days!


Pastor Chuck