July 31, 2020

Dear Prairie Avenue Family,

Last week we gathered in the sanctuary for the first time since March. With a few exceptions, the guidelines were followed. As COVID-19 cases have increased again over the past week, we will 100% enforce mask coverings for entrance to worship. NO MASK. NO ATTENDANCE. NO EXCEPTIONS. WEAR A MASK.

Again, if you are having any symptoms, please join us via online worship, whether at 5 pm Saturday or the re-broadcast on Facebook Live at 9 am each Sunday. Please check your temperature before coming to gather with us. We expect to continue to hold in-person services each Sunday unless public health and government officials announce a reduction in permitted group gathering attendees.

Worship This Weekend
We continue our summer series Family Reunion: Lessons from Genesis . This Saturday at 5 pm worship-online , or Sunday at 9 am we will find Jacob anticipating his long-delayed reunion with his elder brother Esau. It has been 20 years since he fled from a brother threatening to kill him upon the death of his parents. Leaving the family with only a stolen birthright and family blessing, Jacob now returns with 4 wives, 11 children, and through his ever-present shrewdness, immense wealth gained at the expense of Uncle Laban. To soften and butter up his sibling, Jacob has sent a collection of gifts with his servants to encounter Esau and his group on their journey.

Jacob split his family into two, crossing a small creek (Jabok) near the Jordan river to provide some measure of safety should his brother attack. During the night, and possibly in view of his family on the other side of the creek, Jacob meets a man who wrestles him until daybreak, not gaining an upper hand on Jacob until he displaced Jacob's hip out of socket. The man is a strange figure, not disclosing his name, but instead, giving a limping Jacob a new name and identity: Israel "One who contends with God and humans."

The mysterious man gives a blessing in the agony of a displaced hip, marking Jacob for life. Who was it? We only have Jacob's statement, and Jacob believed the man was none other than God.

Jacob's struggle in the night with God has likely been experienced by each of us at one time. We contend with God. We may even not let go until we get a blessing. Sometimes you must hurt in order to know, fall in order to grow, lose in order to gain. Because most of life's greatest lessons are learned through painful experience. The moments that changed your life and your identity likely was marked by a wrestling match where you neither prevailed, nor lost outright, but ended with a draw.

Other News This Week
Solar Equipment Update We continue to anticipate both permit and weather approval to begin our long-awaited project as the first solar-powered church in Macon County.

Elevator Blues Representatives and technicians from Kone Elevator visited us this past week to investigate and provide an estimate for modernizing our elevator, replacing obsolete hardware and equipment to current building and electrical code standards. We await their estimate and report.

New Adult Discussion Class to begin August 5 I hope you will join me in the parlor on Wednesdays at 6 pm to explore what the Bible (in particular the books of Daniel & Revelation) have to say about future and final things. I will give away God's plan: God wins in the end. Our guide will be Craig Hill's book In God's Time: The Bible and the Future. Certainly dealing with a global pandemic, increasing natural disasters and destructive weather has made many to speak about end times. Some have used these events to sensationalize biblical prophecy. Other believers have cast doubt, or certainly skepticism about even discussing the matter. I promise you that after our ten weeks together, you will better understand the nature, theology, and Biblical testimony of last things. You do not need the book to participate. To maximize class size, we will meet in the parlor, observing COVID-19 precautions. To register, click here .

See you in worship in the sanctuary on Sunday morning at 9 am or Saturday online at 5 pm this weekend!
As a church family, we care for and pray for one another.

Family of Jim Kater (7/20). Cards may be sent to the family: 6820 Hibbard Rd, Macon, IL 62544.

As a matter of privacy, we will no longer disclose other prayer concerns.

If you would like prayer, please submit your prayer request online , and Pastor Jason and prayer team members will pray for you.
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