ear Church Family,
On Sunday I shared a little about Jeremiah 29.11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. You may not realize it by just seeing the verse itself, but these words were written to a people who were living in uncertain times. To me, that is what makes these words so powerful. Even when our future seems uncertain, we can be assured that God is working to make that future good.
It’s been almost nine weeks since we stopped meeting in our building. When we first began this, everyone was hoping that this was going to be a brief pause, but as you can see, that wasn’t the case. It’s amazing how everything in our lives can change so quickly. But even in uncertain times, we must always remember that God’s plans for us are good. When was the last time you looked around you and saw the goodness of God? If you haven’t done so recently, I would encourage you to. When you live in uncertain times, it’s all too easy to focus on the things that are wrong, rather than the things that are right. Giving thanks helps us to keep things in perspective. When I look at the Crossing, I am so thankful for the good things I see God continuing to do among us, even in these uncertain times.
I am thankful for the way God has used our online worship services to reach new people each week. That has been amazing to me.
I am thankful for our faithful worship leaders and sound and video people, who are there each Sunday to make sure this service happens. You would not believe all the work that goes into this each week. Yes, we have had a few hiccups along the way, but each and every time our volunteers have stepped up to solve it. They are such a blessing.
I am thankful for the volunteers who have been calling the members of our congregation. They called people aged 70 and up, the most vulnerable of our congregation, and are now calling everyone who attends the Crossing. They are doing so, just to say we care, we love you and we are here for you! What an amazing example of the love of Christ.
I am thankful for our small group leaders, our children and youth leaders, and our healing and Mashah teams, who have ensured that ministry would continue, though in different form, during this crisis. I guess you can say we are zooming into our future.
I am thankful for all of those who are able to continue giving during this time, both to our ongoing ministry, but also to our capital campaign. God has given us such grace.
I am thankful for our CSSM (Crossing School of Supernatural Ministry) students. In just a few weeks, our year three students will officially complete their program. What an amazing group of people. I am excited to think about how God is going to use them in the years ahead.
Through all of these uncertain times, we are planning for our future. Yes, our building plans are continuing. I was just in an incredible meeting on Tuesday night with our Crossing Leadership Team, to prayerfully and carefully look at where we are and what we should do about it. As we looked at everything, from budgets to timing, there was a unanimous sense that God had opened the doors for us to continue. Not only that, our builders are now telling us that they can have the building project completed in seven months. That means if we can begin in June, we can have it all finished by January. Incredible!
Yes, at this this point we are not sure when we will be reopening. That’s what uncertain times look like. This week I have been in meetings with our annual conference (our Bishop and Cabinet), other nationally known United Methodist pastors and pastors from here in Pennsylvania, all around the issue of “what reopening would look like for churches”. Many churches across the country have no idea when they will be opening as of yet. Some are thinking maybe July, others maybe August, some even later. And even when they do reopen, they are thinking it would be in greatly reduced numbers, because of social distancing. You can imagine everyone keeping a six foot distance. But there is more to this picture as well. For example, at this point, when churches reopen, congregational singing is discouraged. Who wants to go to church and not sing? And fellowship between services is discouraged. Yes, there is so much more on this list. All this has made the need for our online presence more important than ever. These may be uncertain times, but God’s plan for us is good. At present, we are working on putting together a plan as to what our reopening will one day look like. When that is completed, I will let you know.
So in the meantime, we are going to continue meeting online with all of our ministries, even if we go to yellow stage in the weeks ahead. I also want to encourage you to look for ways that God can use you during this time. It may be as simple as a phone call or text, or it might be helping someone who is among the most vulnerable. This is a great opportunity to make an eternal difference in someone’s life.
Many blessings to you all.