October 27, 2020 (Week 33)
Beloved in Christ; Shalom!
This week I am sending out the newsletter a bit earlier than usual so that I might keep you up to speed about upcoming worship services.
Beginning tomorrow evening, we are opening our campus (by sign up only) for mid-week worship and fellowship. At 5 pm tomorrow (Wednesday the 28th), we will have the first of what will hopefully become a weekly event: it will be a Service of Word and Prayer, aka “Concert in the Courtyard”. This will be a brief time for worship and the enjoyment of music on campus, with as much fellowship as is permissible with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Everyone is required to sign up ahead of time to attend. We will all be masked, and family groupings will remain social distant from one another, with no mingling permitted to or from our vehicles. Some will find this a bit restrictive, but I am hoping we’ll all respect the rules in place so that we aren’t forced to suspend these services. In any case, we anticipate a wonderful time of worship, music and fellowship (yes, fellowship) with these Wednesday “Concerts in the Courtyard.” As of my last check, there are still places available to signup, so please check! And if you can’t find an opening for signup this week, don’t worry. We intend to keep it going until we can get together in the sanctuary again.
Please sign up here: https://www.godamong.us/post/wednesday-concerts-in-the-courtyard
On May 20, 2020, the Rev. Jack E. Lindquist entered eternal rest, after a long struggle with crippling and painful arthritis. Because of COVID-19, his wife, Dr. Patricia Lindquist made the decision to have his Celebration of Life, including participation from the various parishes Pr. Jack served over the years. That service will be available to view on All Saints Sunday, this coming weekend, at 4 pm. You can go to our website: www.godamong.us and click on the link on the front page to access the service at that time. The service will be in our archives to be viewed at your convenience after that day.
Last Friday it was my privilege to officiate at the funeral service for David Hawkins. His favorite Bible passage, which he referred to as “words to live by,” was Philippians 4: 4-7. I expanded on this passage a wee bit, (Philippians 4: 2-9), and used it as a text for my message. I used it again in conversation with our Stephen Ministers this past Monday evening. This text is St. Paul’s effort to diffuse and reconcile a conflict that had erupted in the church in Philippi. His text is instructive for us today.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
It is entirely likely, that by the time you receive the next newsletter that I am to send out, our country will have elected a new president. There may undoubtedly still be counting and deliberations taking place, all of which is to be expected. However, I wanted to share St. Paul’s exhortations to Euodia and Syntyche, with all of you today, so that we too might be of the same mind in the Lord. This is not a small thing. We are people who love one another, and who’ve shared life together for some time. And now with the evident polarization inflicted on us by the imbalanced political machinations of our democracy, we risk losing sight of what’s most important. There is bitterness and anger and sorrow in the hearts of some of us, God’s children, that seek fervently to blame someone...anyone. We must get past that sinful impulse. We’re all human and we all have a decidedly narrow perspective; and more than that, no matter how certain we are of the rightness of our said “narrow perspective,” there is always room and reason to reflect on others’ perspectives.
And remember, we must not lose sight of what’s truly important! We are citizens of a nation, among all else, blessed beyond measure! We are sisters and brothers together in this place, and we are called upon to muster the civility and integrity that inheres in our constitution and in the very fabric of our national identity, to seek “to be of the same mind in the Lord.” Be clear; this doesn’t mean that we all have to agree, or naively accept one person’s opinion over another, or our own. But it does mean that we MUST keep perspective. God is in control! Let’s not be combative or angry, flighty or anxious, paralyzed or fearful, submissive or depressed. Let’s rather opt to love one another, even in the face of disagreement. Let’s decide to embrace love as a way of life, rather than hate. The people from whom I have learned the most in life, are often the one’s with whom I disagree intellectually, most vigorously; but in whom I see a passion and conviction born of love that is in some measure, the same as mine. Whatever the outcome of the election, it is my prayer that all of us will make every effort to let love be the defining characteristic of our response. In our faith, though there may be healthy dissent, and occasional conflict, there is most certainly no room for violence born of hatred. Please, please, please, be the beacons of light that our world needs now, in a moment when shadows seem everywhere.
May the God of peace who loves us enough to save us, grant us grace and strength to be God’s people, together, without qualification and without fear. God is with us. Always. To the end of the age.
Humbly, and in God’s service,
- Before worship, around 9 am, Darrell and Nancy Datte host our after worship coffee/donut fellowship time (BYOC/D) on Zoom, and look forward to welcoming everyone in our community. Please think about joining in and saying hi to your brothers and sisters. That gathering can be found here: