Love Everyone, always
July 22, 2021 (Time in Pandemic: 1 Year, 4 Months, 2 Weeks, 1 Day)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Listen to a story Jesus once told:
14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’ (Matthew 25: 14-30 MSG)
It is important to me that our congregation has an understanding of how abundantly blessed we are at ILC. We are just coming to the end of an exceedingly difficult time in the world. More than a year in which lives and businesses and systems have been lost or turned upside down. Many churches have not fared as well as have we. We have been blessed immeasurably. You, our faithful congregants have continued to be generous, despite our inability to get into your homes to offer ministry and service; and despite our inability to welcome you into “your home here at ILC,” to be fed and to participate as wholly as before, in ministry and service. And yet, we have survived! To understate that or overlook that fact, is certainly shortsighted, and one may argue, sinful.
We have added new members to our membership rolls during a pandemic. That’s extraordinary. We have been blessed to have been awarded not one but two PPP loan/grants from the federal government that have effectively covered any deficits (real or perceived) that this year imposed on us. We are blessed, and I believe that it’s not for nothing. We have an opportunity now, to boldly go forth and be the servants God would have us be, and that, we intend to do! And indeed, it has already begun.
We’ve had a relatively smooth start to our first few “in person” worship opportunities, and a growing number of people are now attending regularly. Our first service was largely the online, “streaming” format that we’ve used throughout the pandemic, and it was well received. Slowly we are adding elements to make it more and more “normal”, to accommodate both the interest in worship being what it once was, and the interest we have in exercising all prudent precautions. For example, readings are live now, as opposed to recorded and our hymns will soon be led by three or four vaccinated singers so that our congregation feels more and more that we are “in” worship again. Other changes will come as quickly as we are able to adopt them.
While seeking to reintegrate a normal worship opportunity for people, we are committed to providing online opportunities for those who don’t yet feel comfortable coming in person, and for those who are far away. Indeed, we hope to develop and improve our online presence to an increasingly “state of the art” experience. Thanks to a couple of very generous donations and a grant from our synod, we’ve now developed a recording studio on campus!
Our second “in person” service format that we wished to initiate, was our “Saturday Evening” service, which began last Saturday and from all reports, was largely successful, notwithstanding a technical glitch at the beginning. We look forward to welcoming more and more attendees as time goes on.
Our third “in person” opportunity, the “contemporary service” is slated for August 22 at 5:00 pm. This is particularly exciting for me, as the timing is intended to provide a real opportunity for families burdened with a multitude of choices, the choice of worshiping together with family. (Also I really miss our band!)
Beckie has a plan for the re-initiation of the choir in the coming weeks, with a view to beginning when the school year starts. And with the shift to live singing, and choir participation, we shall hear more and more of our pipe organ live at our traditional worship service.
In view of the re-structuring of the worship schedule, significant and exciting changes are planned for Christian education. Sunday school instruction of preschool through 5th grade children will likely occur during the worship hour on Sunday mornings (as has children’s church for a number of years now). Middle school (confirmation), high school Sunday school, and Rex club are now being proposed for the first Sunday of the month to run immediately after our 5 pm service. Our hope is that this will better meet the needs of families and provide for a variety of opportunities moving forward.
We have already begun ministering to the good people of Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church in Lake Elsinore. Already a number of our ILC members have gone up to worship with them, and are even beginning the process of interacting at what I hope will become a variety of levels. (Quilters, property, mission trips, etc.)
We are entering into conversation regarding the use of the space that formerly housed our preschool. It is hoped that we can find a way to let it remain a location that supports a community of faith, and is used in such a way as to best help ILC as well.
Recently, we’ve been hearing of the resurgence of COVID numbers, even here in San Diego county… LA County has put back into place its mask mandates… We want to move forward, and are doing so, but there is some anxiety about how this will all come together because we don’t know all the answers to all the questions.
So we don’t know all the answers. But what I can assure you all is this:
We are not going to bury the blessings that our God has bestowed on us! We are going to do God’s work in the world as much and as best we can! If we have to put the brakes on again for a time, we will. But it is our intention to go forth joyously into the world to put to work the blessings with which we have been blessed; and that so we may become the blessings we can be to God’s people!
This is an exciting time! God is active in the world! God calls us to be active in the world! God is with us! Always! Lets get at it!
Peace and grace,
Saturday 5:30 p.m. Worship Resumes!
The Saturday 5:30 p.m. worship service will resume on July 17th, 2021. No sign ups are necessary. Please continue to check the church website (www.godamong.us) for safety guidelines and precautions.
LINK is BACK
LINK (6th-12th grades) will meet on Sundays June 13 & 27 and July 18 & 25 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. We have service projects, games, fellowship, and fun planned for you all. Meet in the courtyard. Bring a jacket. Wear a mask. And be ready for a fun time!
ILC Youth Golf Tournament Our first fundraiser for the ELCA youth gathering is a golf tournament on August 8th. Get your neighbors, relatives, and friends to participate for a day of fun in the fairways. Let me know if you'd like to help that day.
Hygiene Supplies Needed! Interfaith is low on hygiene supplies, shampoo, deodorant, bar soap. There is also a need for new or gently used blankets. Thank you for your consistent generosity!
Food Drop off for Interfaith Community Services Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning, volunteers are in the parking lot to move groceries and take all the donations to ICS.
We would like to invite everyone to please see the church's website for updated Covid precautions.
We encourage everyone to attend if you can. Thank you and see you in Church!