Throughout my years in ministry I have always said that every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. Some people fail to realize that even orthodox Jews who chose to follow Jesus in the early years of Christianity changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday (the first day of the week). Why does this matter? It looks like we will not be allowed to gather on Easter in Georgetown unless something changes dramatically in the Austin area. I would encourage anyone faced with that prospect to realize that the next time we worship together in one place is Resurrection Sunday. It should be met with all of the enthusiasm, joy, and celebration that any Easter might bring. I would also hope that people will flock back to churches and do so with a new sense of the glory of being together in the name and in the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We need a heaven sent revival in our nation. We need that revival more than anything else. While so many are focused on the containment of this virus, I pray they will realize that there is a spiritual plague that has been ravaging our country for a long time. This spiritual infection is pervasive and unavoidable, but there is a glorious cure through the blood of Jesus.
Join me in looking forward to our next opportunity to worship together. Whenever that is, it will be Easter Sunday for me.
You can never be sure who reads these posts, but for those who do I will be back at my desk today. I took a brief break this week. (Though I found myself speaking on Wednesday on line and writing countless emails.) Today I am available by phone and email to anyone who needs the contact. I will be proactive in getting in touch with people. I hope you will join me in a special time of prayer each day focused on the end of this crisis. I hope you will also pray that God will use this time in people’s lives to draw them close to himself.
May I recommend a Scripture reading today from Jeremiah 29: 1-23. This is the prophet Jeremiah’s God given instructions to Israel while in exile in Babylon. Do not fail to notice the faith and hope promoted in the letter. It is a timely word to us as we adjust to strange circumstances. For many of us it is the strangest time of our lives. It makes me think of what it may have been like to be in England when the Nazis were dropping bombs on the United Kingdom during World War II. I know the war was worse, but the forced adjustments are the part that may slightly compare. I personally have never been through a time like this, and I imagine that is true of many who read this. During the war, many people sent their children to rural areas of England to shelter them from the bombings. I have heard similar stories of people scattering to rural areas of Texas and the United States where there are no registered cases of the virus. I surely hope they are not carrying the virus with them as they go. Enough of this. Read the passage in Jeremiah and trust the Lord. Our God is greater than anything that can come against us.
It is very hard to change from a person who has spent his life trying to encourage others to follow Jesus to a person in solitary confinement. In fact, it is not possible. I can hardly wait until we get the green light to put a hand on someone’s shoulder and convey the kindness of the Lord. There is a line in something written by Teresa of Avila which reads, “Christ has no body on earth but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours.” She powerfully made the point that we can reveal Jesus if we love and serve him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our touch can be the touch of Christ. This may sound mystical, but that is exactly what we mean when we speak of the church as the Body of Christ. This temporary distance must come to a close. Being the Body of Christ is more important than life itself. For a time we are lovingly withdrawing, but God will call us forth to once again touch the world. May we all do so with a new resolve and a new vigor. The old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” is compounded when the call of God is fervent and the time is short. It truly is short you know. One day we shall all be with the risen Lord and with one another for eternity. Until then we must continue to reach out and touch the world.
These days have been the strangest days of my life. I sometimes feel like a character in a science fiction movie. The adjustments we are being asked to make right now are understandable, but let us not be deceived into thinking that we are in control of our own destiny. We all have an appointment with God someday. Maybe this is why we are going through this. It is an opportunity for us to realize our dependence on God. Our hope is in the Lord and not in our government. We should each avow that when this strange time has passed we will not forget the lessons learned in these days. No matter how much we have tried to limit our contact with one another, God is never distant. He is with us. We should be finding more time for prayer and reflection on the real purpose of life
. We should also have greater respect for those who are faithfully serving us in these days regardless of personal risk. Just as we have remembered fireman rushing into burning towers in 2001, we should remember medical personnel and other public servants who have courageously met needs in the midst of quarantines.
Those lessons of 2001 as well as the lessons of today remind me of a God who would not keep his distance from a sinful and fallen world. He sent his one and only Son into the world to come into contact with all of the contamination of sin in order to overcome it for those who would believe in Him. He would not keep His distance then, and He is not keeping His distance now.
Early this morning , I read all the history I could find of Crestview from her founding in July of 1961 until 1995. I am thinking that I need to have that collection republished in a new format for those who would like to see it. I especially enjoyed the discussion about the vision of the lay persons who founded the church. We are building today on the foundation they laid. The first 2.5 acres that belonged to this church was given by Harold Parker. The current Fellowship Hall and kitchen was the original structure. The Prayer Chapel was the foyer of the original Worship Center. The columns along the wall in the Fellowship Hall extend to the center of the peak of the room above the current drop ceiling. The ceiling was put in at the same time as the movable walls during the late nineteen nineties. This provided much needed adult bible study space to grow our Sunday morning Bible Study. In order to provide the support for the movable walls, Buck Christian built an amazing beam of wood that is supported on the north and south walls. It took a large group of men to lift the beam in place. It was made of two very large two by twelves with a metal plate in the center. When completed the Fellowship Hall could now host three adult classes on a Sunday morning. Currently we have a large class meeting in the Fellowship Hall and could possibly add another at some point. Even with our large Adult Education Building there is a need for more classes. The day is coming when our current Worship Center will be a large bible study/event venue and the back part will be more adult classes. The vision is for at least a 1200 seat Worship Center to be built on the East side of the Commons extending back over the area we use for overflow parking.
The other elements of history that are recorded are the names of each of the five pastors who served before my arrival and the length of their tenure. Jarvis Philpot served twenty two years. My tenure is now going on twenty five years. Between the two of us we have served here all but a dozen or so years of the existence of the church. Of special interest to me is that one of the former pastors, T. F. Collier, was once my pastor. In fact he performed my baptism at my home church in Bangs where he served during the very first years of Cresview’s existence. I was baptized in the Spring of 1960 and Crestview started in July of 1961. T. F. Collier came to Crestview in July of 1966. I had not known he had been here until my first week as pastor when I saw his picture in the old church library. I always feel divinely led to places where we serve, but that discovery underscored my sense of destiny here.