Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NRSV)
Sisters and Brothers, it’s certainly no news to you that anxiety is still running high regarding the Covid-19 crisis. As I’ve been praying through this, I believe much of the angst comes from just “not knowing.” It seems we can face most anything if we know what it is we are facing. (Read that again.) It is the not knowing, the many unanswered questions, which are generating much of the anxiety. We hear on a daily basis, some form of the phrase, “Well, we just don’t know.” We don’t know when we can get back to doing what we’re used to doing, we don’t know when we can get back to work, we don’t know when we can hug our family, we don’t know, we don’t know…and on and on it goes. Most days it seems we don’t know far more than it feels like we do know. So, no wonder people are anxious and depressed.
Let me suggest to you that we take Paul’s advice from Philippians 3:13. Let’s stop focusing on what we do not know (what we can’t change) and CHOOSE to focus on what we DO know. Paul decided to stop letting his past limit his present and future. We can choose to do that too—by focusing on the FACT that there is One who knows, and then choosing to focus on Him because we trust Him. God is never surprised and that includes this pandemic. Change your focus.
Even if we are not overly anxious or depressed, most of us are getting tired of looking at the same inside walls by now. People are starting to feel we’ve been cooped up long enough. If that’s you, let me offer a couple suggestions. First, look at those same walls in your home and say aloud to yourself, “I’m okay. Life is not what I’d like it to be right now, but I am okay!” (And if you are NOT okay, we need to know about it!) And second, try to look forward to at least one good thing every day. Maybe it’s a book you’ve wanted to start or a movie you wanted to rent or something as simple as ordering pizza with extra cheese or having sushi delivered for the first time. Change your focus.
Friends, your church staff and pastors continue to be very busy because we focus on what we DO know while preparing for what we do NOT know. This keeps all of us on our feet, so-to-speak. We have become very nimble in shifting plans to accommodate the almost daily change in our ministry landscape. This is why we know changing your focus onto what you do know, works. Change your focus. Forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.
Remember that I love you!
Pastor Rusty <><
IMPORTANT MINISTRY UPDATES
1. If you are simply feeling overwhelmed right now, Pastor Rusty is available for counselling by phone. Please send an email to our Administrative Assistant Lynda Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
2. PRAISE GOD! We get to keep the National Guard service persons for at least another 45 days staffing the Food Pantry! They are WONDERFUL. And without them, right now, it would be difficult to say the least to serve the sometimes 600 families a day. THANK YOU GOD and THANK YOU GUARD!
3. Since it is unlikely we will be back together physically by Mother’s Day, we will celebrate The Lord’s Supper during virtual worship on May 10th. So, between now and then, please pick up some bread and grape juice if possible so we may celebrate together on the 10th. Bishop Trimble has given special permission for us to celebrate the Sacrament virtually. Please join together in this special time of Holy Communion.
4. A profound THANK YOU to each of you who remain so very faithful in your support of Old Bethel and our continuing ministries! Thank you for your unwavering prayer support and your faithful financial support. Your generosity will position Old Bethel to be in a very strong position for continuing ministry on the other side of this corona crisis. Old Bethel will maintain its strong Gospel voice of hope in very trying times.
5. Below are the Message Notes for this coming Sunday’s Message.
Message Notes: God, Where Are You?
There is nothing in Christian worship more common than the idea of the _____________ of God.
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me…?” Psalm 22:1a
________________ by people is a fairly common experience.
Your unbelieving ____________ secretly hope YOUR God is listening to at least YOU and that even if they don’t yet believe in God, they believe ______ do!
When faced head on with _______ ___________, they look so scary.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
The psalms in the Bible were used as __________ in the synagogues.
Jesus didn’t only quote the first line of this Psalm when He hung on the cross. He also quoted the _______ ________ of the Psalm.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before Him. For dominion belongs to the LORD, and He rules over the nations. To Him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before Him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for Him. Posterity will serve Him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim His deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that He has done it. Psalm 22:27-31 (NRSV)
Saying “He has done it” literally translates into, “___ ___ ____________!”
Psalm 22 is NOT a Psalm of abandonment and despair. It is actually a powerful message of _______ and _______!
The Good News: God _______ ____________ you!
“Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Remember, _________ are NOT ____________. And the fact is that God CANNOT abandon you without ___________ to be _____________.