And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
We know that 2020 has been an unusual year and COVID-19 has brought so many distractions and inconveniences. For churches, COVID wiped out our calendars and prevented some of our normal ministries. Initially, the goal was to stay connected with our church family via online services and ministries, phone calls, and other contacts. Then the goal became getting back to church. Instead of reliving the obstacles of 2020, I just want to remind us of some of the priorities we have as a church. Specifically, we want to obey the Great Commandments (Matt. 22:37-39) and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
We want to love God with all that is within us. One of the primary ways that we love God is through worship. Thankfully, we are now able to gather together to worship the Lord through song, fellowship, giving, and through the Word. About half of our folks have not returned to in-person worship because of health concerns, age, or other reasons. We hope those who have not returned to church are staying connected through our online services. (We realize there are sometimes technical issues that cause frustrations and we appreciate your patience.) We want our online viewers to know that we care about them and miss them dearly. Sometimes, we forget to acknowledge you in our welcome time, but we sure appreciate you staying connected and we know you want to return when COVID-19 concerns are decreased.
Not only do we want to love God, we also want to love others. We want to love others in our church family. Please continue to reach out to each other and especially those who are homebound or staying isolated as much as possible. Many people are lonely and discouraged because of months of isolation. Maybe you can get your directory out this week and make a few contacts each day just to see how others are doing. We also want to love others around us. We are living in a most divisive time and it seems that the divisiveness is increasing as we get closer to the election. We are now less than 4 weeks away from election day. I would caution all of us to be careful with our witness/testimony during this time. I have seen both friends and family divided over a political party, politician, or a social issue. While these issues are important, loving our neighbors and loving one another is a biblical mandate. Let us guard our words and actions during these divisive days. (Because some people feel that wearing a mask is a way to love one another, we continue to request you to wear mask into and out of our services.)
We want to fulfill the Great Commission by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. We started this year with a “Who’s Your One?” challenge. I hope you are still praying for your “one.” I hope you are looking for opportunities to speak to your “one” about the Lord. I know that COVID has complicated our witnessing (especially having personal contact with others). It is so easy to put evangelism on the shelf and excuse ourselves because of a virus. However, we know that people need the Lord. COVID or no-COVID, lost people are on a road leading to hell. More that protection from COVID, people need to be rescued for eternity.
While COVID has altered our lives, it has not changed our mission. Let’s be focused on loving God, loving others, and making disciples. Our mission matters. You are an important part!