Pastor Matt's Parish Report (Mar 17)
Embrace the limitations, Flourish within the boundaries, and Pray for the city.
Dear Trinity Church Family,
Last night the Bargers hosted a house group that may be our church's last indoor gathering this side of Easter. I was struck by the timeliness of the words Nancy Fike read from the Godspeed Study Guide on Mission:
"Forced to walk 900 miles, the Israelite refugees arrive in a foreign city that stood for everything they hated and feared. The prophet Jeremiah kept in touch with them by letter-writing, challenging them not only to embrace the limitations of their new life in exile, but to flourish within the boundaries. False prophets promised that the boundaries would soon be lifted. God's will for his people was the new normal of life in exile, not greener grass to live somewhere else."
The words reference Jeremiah 29: 4 - 7, after Israel has been taken into captivity in Babylon. Instead of inciting his people to rebel, God instructs his people to "settle down, plant gardens, eat what they produce . . . seek the peace and prosperity of the city, and pray for it."
This week as I have been keeping 6 feet of separation, I have also been listening closely to people's words. Some speak of anger at the media for over-blowing the crisis. Others speak of anger at the President's under-playing the virus' threat. Let me encourage us as a church to spend our energy in prayer, and to direct our emotions at loving one another well. This begins at home. I have asked Julia Barger to send an email with tips on how to FLOURISH AT HOME as families. I have asked Julie Canlis to send WORSHIP POP-UPS to help direct your prayer life. I will be sending a weekly FIRESIDE CHAT video to give BACKYARD PILGRIM STORIES from the parish. And Pastor Carson will soon send a list of 9 WAYS TO BE THE BODY OF CHRIST this week. Church has not been cancelled, we are the church - at home, at work, and in the world.
Keep reading Backyard Pilgrim so we can remain on the same page together. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is page 70, Week 3 Day 4 Pointing Fingers - The Temptation to Blame Others. And please call my cell phone this week (206) 953.4129 and tell me:
1. Your favorite Bible verse from this week's Backyard Pilgrim.
2. Any questions that arose from the reading?
3. One Story from your parish walk - and what you are learning about God, your neighbor, or yourself.
I may not always be able to pick up my phone, but I will listen to every voicemail, pray, and return your call within 24 hours.
Let's not let the social distancing measures make us lose connection with each other.
There is still one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body, and many parts.
Let's be the resilient Body of Christ.
The Lord is with you.
PS Coming soon! Be on the look-out for plans to have Drive-thru Church this Sunday.
No, I'm not kidding. Your church staff is having fun embracing the limitations,
and flourishing within the boundaries!