August 13, 2020
"God is our refuge and strength." - Psalm 46:1
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
We have two pieces of good news for you today - next Tuesday, August 18, at 7:00 pm, we are hosting a drive-in night at church for a time of worship, fellowship, and a brief congregational meeting. It will be great to see you, even if it's through a car windshield! [Details are in the letter mailed yesterday, and included below.]
And, the even bigger news is that session voted Tuesday night to restart in-person worship! We will start back on August 23. Case numbers have stabilized in Allegheny County, and we believe we can resume gathering with the safety protocols we have in place. We will continue to offer one blended service at 10am for the time being, and we will continue to livestream on Facebook and YouTube for any who are more comfortable worshiping with us from home. As we did in June, we will require masks and social distancing while in the building for anyone over the age of two. Please stay home if you or a family member are unwell. We advise people in high-vulnerability groups to carefully consider the safest options. Sunday School classes and small groups will still meet online for now. I can't wait to see you face to facemask!
Last Sunday, we started our sermon and small group series on the Psalms, emphasizing how to study them for yourselves. For each Psalm we study, we are asking three basic questions: What does it say? What does it mean? And what does it mean for my/our life?
This Sunday, we are looking at Psalm 46, which is probably the psalm I have turned to the most since the pandemic hit. It is full of powerful promises for a troubled time like this. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2). We are only halfway through the month and we have already dealt with a pandemic, a massive explosion, a hurricane, an earthquake, and a derecho, so God's promises in Psalm 46 are exactly what we need! Verse 6 reminds us that God "lifts his voice, the earth melts." That is the power of the God we serve. A God whose very voice can melt the earth. He is the voice of Jesus who can calm the storm with a simple "Peace, be still."
And that is exactly the storm He is trying to calm in each one of us. Perhaps the most well-known verse in this psalm is verse 10, "Be still and know that I am God". Say that to yourself three or four times. Be still and know. Be still and know. Be still - turn off the newsreel in your mind. Be still and picture Jesus smoothing out the waves in front of you. Be still and know that the God who formed the wind and waves is the same one who formed you. Know that the God of the universe knows you by name and loves you so much He died for you. Be still and know that "The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress" (v. 11).
May God's peace and power still your hearts and minds as you rest on His promises today.
Deacon and Elder Nominees: We are thrilled with our nominations for elders and deacons. Please thank and pray for these people who have been courageous enough to serve during a pandemic. For elders, Ken Woessner will be serving a second term, Jim Charron will be returning after a year off, and we have three new elders: Alex Frye, Kevin Hambelton, and Rob York. They have dedicated much time for the children, youth, adult education, and men's ministries, and we are grateful that God has uniquely gifted each of them to bless our church. For our deacons, Nancy Ettinger and Marcia Kelley are serving second terms, and our new deacons are Janet Bodnar, Sharon Corey, Amanda Hasley, and Jennifer Miller. As with our new elders, these deacon nominees have demonstrated countless hours of faithful service to the church. We are so thankful for all of them!
Small Groups: Now is a great time to join a small group! We are just starting the series on our favorite Psalms. Study guides for the Psalms study are available on our website, https://mlepc.org/psalms-study/. We have small groups meeting online almost every day of the week, and we have groups for Tweeners, Middle School and High School, Young Adults, just women, just men, and coed groups. The Lamplighters Sunday School class is taking the month of August off, but they will be back in September. If you are interested in becoming part of one of these groups, please contact us at 412-531-3387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hour of Prayer (formerly known as Sundays at Seven): A group of us are gathering on Zoom every Sunday at 7pm to pray together, and we would love to have you join us! Here is the Zoom link for a computer, tablet or phone: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/92561964416 . You can also call in from a regular phone - dial 1-646-558-8656 and enter the Meeting ID - 925 6196 4416. For more info, contact Pat Gaudio at email@example.com.
As always, please let us know if there is any way we can support you or connect with you during this season. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with any needs, prayer requests, or just updates on how you are doing. And you are always welcome to call us at 412-531-3387.
~ DRIVE-IN NIGHT DETAILS ~
Dear MLEPC Members and Friends,
We want to invite you for an in-person/in-car gathering on Tuesday, August 18, at 7:00 p.m. We hope you can join us for worship, fellowship, and a brief congregational meeting to elect our new Elders and Deacons.
We'll have some worship time together and some fun! If you choose, we invite you to share an encouraging Scripture, one that has given you hope in this pandemic season. You can decorate your car with the Scripture or simply display it on paper from your windshield or car roof - but you are allowed to be creative! Cars will enter the lower parking lot closest to the St. Bernard entrance where you will be directed to a parking space. When that lot is full, we will use the upper lot on the St. Bernard's side, with overflow in the lower St. Bernard's lot. The band and speakers will stand by the upper lot railing overlooking the lower lot, and the program will be broadcast on 104.1 FM so everyone gathered can hear it on their car radios. There will be some socially distanced chairs set out on the Scott Road side of the back lot for anyone walking - or bring your own chair.
On arrival, you'll receive a scavenger hunt sheet - so hint, hint - don't clean out the inside of your car or purse or glove compartment ahead of time! While everyone is parking, you'll have time to work on it. We will collect those at the end of our time together as you leave, and winners will be notified by mail.
We'll also be distributing bags of popcorn and water bottles. If you are comfortable accepting them, know that they will be prepared by a masked person with gloves and distributed in that same manner.
Hope to see you there!
The Congregational Connections Ministry Team