The Witness
Volume 39, Issue 37
September 15, 2021
"Treading Water"
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)
I once heard someone say, “In my line of work, treading water is the same as drowning.” The way I understood that statement is that moving forward is essential; standing still is not an option. In most areas of life, if we are not moving forward, in actuality, we are moving backwards. When I read the above passage in Acts, I hear a similar message being offered to the disciples.

Jesus had just ascended into heaven. I cannot imagine how disappointing this must have been for his disciples. They were devastated by his death on the cross. They were confused by the empty tomb and Mary Magdalene’s report. They were overjoyed by his appearance in the upper room. They were excited about the future he had promised, and believed that through his resurrection that future had been inaugurated. With great eagerness and anticipation, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom of Israel?”

After commissioning them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, Jesus ascended into heaven and disappeared into the clouds. Once again, he was gone. In response, they stood there looking up into the sky. I imagine there was some confusion and disappointment. Where was he going? Why was he leaving them again? What would the future hold? Was Israel ever going to be restored to what it once was? What were they supposed to do now?

In the midst of their disbelief, a voice broke through the silence. It was the voice of two men dressed in white robes. Without offering many answers, they asked a powerful question: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” In other words, why are you standing still? As he promised, Jesus is going to return; he will not leave you orphaned. Until then, you have work to do. He has given you the power of the Holy Spirit. He has shown you what to do. He has told you where to go. You cannot stay here. You cannot keep treading water. It is time to start swimming.

As a church, COVID-19 stopped us in our tracks. Before the pandemic, just about every area of our church was moving forward. We were experiencing growth in Sunday School, worship, Wednesday night dinners and activities, as well as in many other ministries. There was great hope and excitement. Then a global pandemic hit. For a few months, the world seemed to stand still. When our communities began to reopen, it was a much slower start than any of us anticipated. We were certain it would not last long. Eighteen months later, we are still in it and struggling to get through it. There is confusion and disappointment. There is fear and uncertainty. There is frustration and exhaustion.

When is this ever going to end? Will things ever be like they once were? What changes are temporary, and which ones are permanent? Like the disciples, we too are disappointed that the life we knew seemed to disappear into the clouds. In response, it can be easy to stand still, looking up towards heaven, hoping, waiting, and praying that it will return. And yet, similar to the disciples, maybe we too need to be reminded that we cannot stand still. We cannot keep treading water. God’s mission for this world has not stopped, and therefore, neither can his people. God’s mission required his disciples to move from where they were. He had places for them to be and a message for them to deliver. In order to do this, they could not simply stand still, looking up towards heaven, waiting for Jesus to return and life to be restored to what it once was.

Some days I too find myself hoping, waiting, and praying for life to return to normal. When are things ever going to be like they were? When is church ever going to feel like it did? Will the church family ever be back together like it once was? On those days, I am reminded of the message the disciples received from the two men in white robes: “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Life may not return to the way it was, but Jesus is going to return. Until then, we have work to do. We cannot stand still. Treading water can be the same as drowning. It is time to start swimming. 
-- Travis
Worship this Sunday, September 19th
This week Travis continues his sermon series in James with "What is Sin?"; the reference is James 1:12-18. We hope to see you at 8:45 or 11:00 AM. If you choose to worship virtually, please access our livestream through our website or FB live. Sunday School is at 9:50 AM, and we have classes for everyone.
Music Ministry:
We were glad to see the Chancel Choir return to the choir loft on Sunday! They sang for the first time in 18 months.
Please note that the following begin this Sunday, 9/19: Handbell rehearsals and Youth Choir (both at 5:00 PM); "Pandemonium" Adult Steel Drum Band rehearsals (6:00 - 6:45 PM). See Chris Monroe with any questions.
Bible in a Year Reading
Read this week:
The Old Testament: 2 Samuel 7-14
The New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1-7
Old Testament Prophecy: Ezekiel 15-21
Psalms: Psalms 56-68
Meditate: 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
-2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Prayer: “Remember that you only have one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.” -Teresa of Avila
Wednesday Night Dinners & Activities
Registration is closed for tonight's dinner, but we would love to have you join us at 6:15 PM tonight for the Adult Bible Study ("Facing Life's Challenges" is our theme), Thrive Youth Group, and Children's Choirs. Click here for the outline for tonight's Adult Study.

Next Wednesday's dinner (9/22): Pepperoni & Cheese Pizza, Tossed Side Salad with Ranch or Italian, & Dessert. Ice tea, lemonade, & water. $6/adult, $5/child (ages 4-12), children < 4 are free, max per household is $18. Sign up by calling the church office at 540-343-7685 no later than 5 PM Tuesday, 9/21.

Thanks for understanding the changes that we've made for Wednesday night dinners as we gear back up this year. These dinners are designed to be a time of fellowship, hospitality, and building community. They are not intended to make a profit; ideally, the goal is to simply "break even" on these dinners. Unfortunately, prior to COVID, we were often losing money on Wednesday night dinners for various reasons:
  1. We were often over-ordering food in order to ensure that we had enough for late registrants AND trying to offer substitutions to accommodate as many preferences as possible. We've simplified our menu to decrease food waste and be better stewards.
  2. In the past, our deadline for registration was noon Tuesday, but it wasn't enforced; it was not unusual for us to try to accommodate registrants calling an hour before dinner started. Therefore, we've extended the registration deadline until 5:00 PM Tuesday, but that time is now a firm cutoff in order to decrease confusion on Wednesdays.
  3. A lot goes into making Wednesday night dinners happen! We have numerous volunteers (currently about 13 people each night). Plus Chef Drew must make meal plans, food orders, and guesstimates in advance. And administrative staff must keep track of reservations. Simplifying the menu and adhering to a cutoff time helps us save money, time, frustration, and volunteer burnout.
Thanks for working with us as we return to our Wednesday night dinners and try to make our process a time of blessing in stewardship and fellowship.
Thrive Student Ministry
Join us for our Extreme Kick-Off this Sunday, September 19th at 6:00 PM, following Youth Choir. Parents and students, join us for dinner, an overview for the year, and some games as well! Parents will have a chance to sign up to chaperone, get answers to questions about events and trips over the year, and experience Extreme with your student.

Our Thrive Student Ministry is back to a regular weekly, evening schedule:
Sunday Schedule (beginning Sunday, September 19th):     
  • 4:00pm- Praise Band
  • 5:00pm- Youth Choir
  • 6:00pm- Snack Supper
  • 6:30pm- Extreme
Wednesday Schedule (began Wednesday, September 8th):
  • 4:30pm- Steel Drums
  • 5:30pm- Family Dinner
  • 6:15pm- Wednesday Night Bible Study with Mark Sink

Students, be sure to join our GroupMe group “VBC Thrive” for updates and announcements!
Preteens Event
Preteens are invited to join us for our monthly event Sunday, September 26th from 4:00 until 5:30 PM. We will have an "in" afternoon of fun activities and games, Bible study, and service featuring a mission project.
WMU Fall Missions Celebration
The RVBA WMU 2021 Fall Missions Celebration will be held September 27th and will be hosted by Vinton Baptist. The program begins at 6:30 PM in the sanctuary and features guest speakers Doug & Laura Lee, retired IMB missionaries to Kenya & Tanzania. Everyone is welcome to attend, hear the missionary speakers, and find out more about the WMU organization.
JOY Seniors Events
You won't want to miss the September JOY Seniors Luncheon on the 28th! We will have guest speaker Ann Green, an attorney, talk about long term care and estate planning. Our boxed lunches will come from Mission BBQ and will include your choice of a pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwich, side, coleslaw, drink, and dessert for $10. Sign up at the new JOY Seniors table beside the Welcome Center by Friday, September 24th.

The JOY Seniors will also be taking a tour of the Water Treatment Plant (9 - 11 AM) and PFG (1 - 3 PM) on September 30th. We will have lunch at Jersey Lily's (11:30 AM - 12:30 PM). Departure from the VBC parking lot will be 8:30 AM. The deadline to sign up for this trip is September 24th. The only cost is your lunch, which you will need to pre-order. Order forms are available at the JOY Seniors table beside the Welcome Center.
Walk with Jesus
Walk with Jesus classes begin October 3rd for 3rd - 5th graders; classes will take place in the library during the Sunday School hour every Sunday through November 21st (except 10/31). Please let Sarah know ASAP if you are interested so that class materials can be ordered. She is happy to answer any questions, as well.
Bill Barrett
489 Cameron Drive
Vinton VA 24179-1913
September 12, 2021:
8:45 AM
In person - 145
Online - 118
11:00 AM
In person - 124
Online - 61
Sunday School - 204
Thank you to the Mary Martha Class for their donations to 5th Quarter and to the Food Pantry.

Thanks also to the Helen Siner Wood Circle for their donation to 5th

Thanks goes to the LOA Class for their donation to the Blessing Box.
Blessing Box
Thanks so much to everyone who has donated items for the Blessing Box. We can still use the following: Hamburger Helper meals - any kind, large bottles of laundry detergent (available at Dollar Tree), toilet paper, paper towels (we will never have enough), soup - any kind, boxes of mac & cheese, Chef Boyardee cans - any kind, dish soap, Vienna sausages, & Spam.

Please remember to turn in all Blessing Box donations at the Missions Tables instead of placing them directly in the Blessing Box. Our volunteers categorize items, check expiration dates, and place items in the Blessing Box as needed. Thanks again for your generosity!!
College Care Packages
It's time to collect for College Care Packages, and we need your help with the following items: individual size packages of hard candy (no peanut butter or tree nuts, please), individual serving Oreos, small packs of Clorox wipes, microwave popcorn, Slim Jims, fruit snacks, fruit roll-ups, Gushers, "Kind" snack granola bars, single serving Goldfish/Cheez-its, single serving Pringles, Sharpies, monetary donations to cover shipping costs ($9/package) and the purchase of additional items (note "College Care Packages" in the memo line). Donations will be collected at the Missions Tables; deadline is September 26th.

If you have an undergraduate college student in your family, we want to make sure to include them! Please send your student's name and address to the church office (540-343-7685 or [email protected]) or directly to Jennifer or Joanna Williamson ([email protected]) so that we have the correct address.
Valley Impact Day 2021
Unfortunately, Keystone Community Center has had to close until October due to COVID protocols. We are postponing our September 25th Valley Impact Day partnership to a later date. We will keep you posted of opportunities to help in the near future. See Whitney with any questions.
Children's Volunteers Needed
The Children's Ministry is in need of Children's Worship volunteers. Thanks to all those who regularly help out! If you're interested in helping, but don't know what is required, please contact Sarah. Otherwise, please sign up here (dates available through the end of this month).
September Book Club
I hope you are enjoying The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Use these questions as a guide as you read:

1. Libraries today are more than just a building filled with books. How has your local branch evolved? Are you able to chart these changes and gauge their success within the community?
2. The Library Book confronts the issue of street people patronizing the library. Is this an issue in your hometown? How do you feel about the L.A. library’s involvement, handling of the issue, and the notion of inclusion?
3. Andrew Carnegie is perhaps the most famous supporter and benefactor of libraries. Can you name a modern equivalent who is using his or her largesse to underwrite public works? Is it more important for the public sector to have big benefactors or overall community support?

Happy Reading!
Operation Christmas Child
It's shoebox time again! If you have empty shoeboxes to donate, you can bring them to the church office anytime. Wrapping of shoeboxes takes place every Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 AM - 12 PM in rooms 102 & 103. Everyone is welcome to come help. There are wrapped boxes now available at the Missions Tables for you to pick up and fill with goodies for children in need worldwide. Make sure to pick up a brochure with your box; it will tell you what can and cannot go in the boxes. The deadline to return filled boxes is November 7th. Questions? Contact Darlene McCaskill.
If you have our app, you will notice that each Sunday's bulletin is available through the app. While we provide printed bulletins each Sunday, there is a cost associated with printing and folding paper bulletins. If you prefer to have a paper bulletin in hand, we welcome you to continue using them. If not, please consider utilizing the virtual bulletin through your app. Doing so will allow us to reduce the amount of bulletins printed each Sunday and can save a significant amount of money in long term office expenses.

The Realm roll-out is getting closer. Please be aware that if you and your spouse share an email address, you will both receive a Realm invitation at that address. Whoever responds to the invitation first will have the opportunity to set up a Realm account. Only one Realm account can be activated per email address. If you currently share an email account, but both of you would like to be able to login to Realm, please consider setting up a new, no-cost email address through Google. Just click here to get started. Let us know what the new email account is, and we'll add it to your profile so that you will receive a separate Realm invitation. (You can set up an email account using any email service, such as cox, yahoo, gmail, aol, etc.; we simply mention gmail because it's free and easy to use.)
A huge thanks to ALL who donated hygiene kits for victims of hurricanes Henri & Ida, as well as Afghanistan refugees. We had a total of 57 kits donated! God bless you!
Thanks so much to Carolyn Lyon, Susan Crowder, and Barbara Slusher for volunteering their time and talents to help us out in the church office this past week!
The Administrative & Ministerial Office Staff
To Our Church Family,
We would like to thank everyone for the prayers, beautiful cards, and loving thoughts sent to us at the death of our sister Carolyn. We will miss her so much. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful caring friends! Love in Christ,
Alice Lackey, Becky Conner, Warren & Sue
Thank you SO much to all my family at Vinton Baptist for the love, concern, phone calls, cards, and prayers during my surgery and recovery. Also to the precious folks who came all the way to my home to bring food, I so appreciated it. I love you all and am so glad to be back at work.
Patsy Talbert