Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In-Person Worship starts back this Sunday! We are so grateful case numbers have dropped in Allegheny County, making it possible for us to gather again. 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. Please wear your masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Please stay home if you or a family member is 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. It will be wonderful to worship together again!
Thank you to everyone who helped out and came to our drive-in night on Tuesday! It was such fun, and you have to see the award-winning car decoration by Ken and Janet Woessner! We did have probably the most unique congregational meeting in the history of MLEPC - people voted by sticking their arms out their car windows. Many thanks to the new deacons and elders for their willingness to serve!
This week, we are continuing our sermon and small group series on the Psalms. This week we will be studying Psalm 91 and again asking the three basic questions: What does it say? What does it mean? And what does it mean for my/our life?
If ever there was a psalm perfect for 2020, it is this one. It opens with the powerful promise, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust' (Ps 91:1-2). In it, the psalmist plants his trust in the Lord, assuring his readers, "You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday" (Ps 91:5).
As I am writing this, my dear friend Julia is surrounded by a wildfire in California. She pastors an EPC church in Vacaville, and some of her closest friends have already lost their homes. Evacuees are camping in tents and RVs in their church parking lot. We are grateful they have all gotten out safely, but they have truly known the terror of night and the flaming sparks that fly by day, all while the coronavirus plague is among them too.
"I will not fear," the psalmist says, despite all these things happening around him. Remember last week with Ps 46? "We will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea," it said in Ps 46:2. It's not that bad things won't happen - it's that when they do, we don't need to fear because God is with us.
One of the devil's best weapons against Christians is fear. It feels like the news media, politicians, and advertisers are all using fear as a weapon these days. But our God is not a God of fear. He is a God who has "not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7).
How do we combat fear? We dwell with God. The one who "dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." The more we find our refuge in the Lord, the more we will find rest, the more we will find grace, and the more we will find courage to face all the fires and storms around us.
May God grant you rest under the shadow of His wings today, and may His peace that passes understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!
Donations for Kids: We have some opportunities to bless children and families as the fall season begins and invite you to participate! Items may be brought to the church if you are coming in for worship on Sundays, August 23 or 30, or on Tuesday, September 1, between 9 and 11 a.m. There will be collection tubs in the Narthex on Sundays, August 23 and 30.
First, our Lamplighters Class is sponsoring a collection of lunch-type food items to be donated to Light of Life Rescue Mission. The specific items requested are: snack bags of assorted chips, individual size gold fish crackers, applesauce pouches (GoGo squeeze), fruit cups, or snack packs of peanut butter or cheese sandwich crackers. This is a wonderful opportunity to bless children in our city.
Second, we are collecting school supplies for Brookline Christian Food Pantry. There is not a need for actual backpacks this year, but the following supplies are requested, especially helpful since most children will be doing virtual learning: ruler; packages of markers, crayons, pencils, pens, colored pencils, drawing paper; scissors; glue sticks; large erasers; pocket folders; and note books. Brookline is also (again!) requesting donations of boxes of macaroni and cheese and cans of tuna.
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 now 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 mobile 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.