Dear Centenary Family,
One of the things I’ve been learning as we’ve walked through Genesis and now Exodus in our worship services has to do with prayer. In the Book of Exodus, the people of Israel often complain to God about being in the wilderness. They often say, “Well, we’d rather go back to Egypt. It might have been back-breaking, soul-crushing work, but at least we had food to eat.” I liked the way Drew put it last week in his sermon, reminding us that most churches and many other institutions, when faced with the need to change and adapt, quickly form “Back to Egypt Committees.”
I’ll confess—I could probably be part of one of the committees sometimes. I’d like to think I’m adaptable, flexible, and resilient in the midst of change and uncertainty. But I often long for security, stability, and peace. I’d like to go back to the pre-Covid world. But that’s not happening.
I’ve often heard the Israelites complaints as expressions of stubbornness, or lack or faith. I’ve heard more than one preacher refer to them as whiners. But I’m coming to see that differently. In the text for this Sunday, Exodus 17:1-7, the people are complaining that they don’t have any water. I realize, though, they had a legitimate complaint. They were in a desert without water! That means that they really were in a life and death situation. And it would be outrageous for God to bring them to liberate them from the bondage of Egypt, only to let them die of thirst in the desert. And so, they had every right and reason to be frustrated and disappointed, maybe even outraged and angry. And they expressed that to God.
I heard someone say recently about our current time, that if we lose the ability to be outraged—outraged over injustice, or lying, or failure to operate with fairness and good will—that’s when we’re in trouble.
The thing I’m learning about prayer is that sometimes we need to express our outrage and frustration to God. Maybe God is just waiting for some of us to complain loudly enough about the current state of affairs to act in life-giving ways to bring justice to the oppressed and to provide for the needs of the poor, and to give us the strength and courage we need for the facing of these days.
The title I’m working with for this Sunday’s sermon is,
“God, I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with You!”
Prayer, at least in the Bible, isn’t a form of sugar-coated speech whereby we try to prove our piety to God. Prayer is an honest dialogue and conversation with God about how things really are. And in the process, we are changed—and who knows if God’s heart and mind isn’t changed in that process as well.
Let’s keep working through it together this Sunday. I hope to see you at 11 a.m.
Several weeks ago, our new District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Hyo Lee, preached a sermon to be shared with the Richmond District. We share this with you for your spiritual edification and with the hope it will help you become further acquainted with our new D.S.
We want you to know how grateful we are for your generosity in supporting our efforts to upgrade our capability to stream our services (and perhaps some day other events) with more predictability and clarity. Last week, we started with the new equipment. We’ve been so grateful to Loring Wiggins from Omnitech for all the hard work they’ve done to install all the wiring and cable needed for a strong internet connection in the sanctuary. This was a minor construction project but will help us in so many ways.
We’re also grateful beyond words to Rex Dazey for building, in his own shop, the AV desk that houses all this new equipment and from which volunteers will work to present our services.
One of the things we’d wanted to do for a long time was to hard wire our pulpit microphone, which meant running cable to the front of the sanctuary. We’ve got that done. We’ve upgraded our microphones and now have the ability to mix the sound in the sanctuary, so we look for a higher quality of sound when we return to in person worship.
As you might imagine, there is a steep learning curve to become adept at using this new equipment, but thankfully we have some technically gifted and interested folks who’ve begun that process.
Here are a couple things that might be helpful to you and could be helpful to us as we move forward.
Dealing with Facebook Live
I know Facebook Live has its frustrations. One thing we learned last Sunday, since we could monitor the stream in real time for the first time, was that there is an almost two minute delay with Facebook Live. Facebook Live can have its issues. With our new set up, using a streaming service called Boxcast, we can be sure that on our end, we are delivering a reliable stream, and if there is a problem with that on our end, we will know that immediately.
So, generally speaking, from now on, if you are having a problem with the live-stream, it is likely a problem with Facebook Live itself, or it could be a problem with your device. I know it’s frustrating! The only advice we’ve gotten from the pros is that when you have something go wrong, you can try to refresh your Facebook page or log out and log back in. While we are still using Facebook Live, we are also starting to experiment with another platform called Church Online Platform that we think will be much more user friendly and interactive.
If you have recurring problems, feel free to leave a message at the church office or email us. We’re not tech experts, though our knowledge base is growing every day. It might be we can be of help, or at least point you in the right direction to solve a problem.
An Invitation to this New Ministry
While we have a good core of folks who’ve expressed initial willingness and interest in helping us stream each week, we need more people. We’ve learned you don’t have to be an IT expert to do this, and that with some practice, most folks could probably learn to help us stream using our new equipment. Eventually, we’d like to have at least two people each Sunday, one person to operate the cameras, and one person to monitor the audio. We’re seeing it is also to have a partner with whom to collaborate in this process. If you’d be willing to explore this form of ministry, please give me a call or send me an email. Eventually, we’ll need volunteers to do other things in this online worship environment—serve as hosts or greeters, interact with worshipers, and guests. You’ll be hearing more about those opportunities in days to come.
Thank you for your patience as we have embarked on this new form of ministry and being the church. Keep this ministry in your prayers. And consider if you might be part of serving God in this new area of ministry.