You have probably heard the phrase a lot recently: we are living in “unprecedented” times. In the midst of times like these, it helps to look to other ways of tracking time. As Christians, we have a different way of looking at the year; it is known as the liturgical, or Christian calendar. It begins with Advent, moves to Christmas (a season that lasts 40 days), then to Lent which leads to Easter. This Easter season, or “Pascaltide,” lasts for 50 days (until Pentecost Sunday). For Christians, Easter is not just a day but an entire season. The focus of this season is the resurrection of Jesus. What a great thing to focus on, especially in these unprecedented days!
In this season, there is so much to be thankful for. Though there is tragedy, our world has responded, united, and worked together towards a common goal. God is breaking through so many barriers, and people are hungry for His hope. Churches have worked overtime to serve people, including ours. I want to say a huge thank you to our pastors and church staff who were forced–within days–to change everything in ministry. They met this challenge, and they are going above and beyond to serve our church family and our world. I want to thank our church leaders who have continued to call, meet, counsel, and disciple people closer to Jesus. The work of our church has helped so many people through these anxious times. First and foremost, our church is PRAYING, and these prayers make a difference. Our church has been such a church FAMILY–calling, caring, providing for needs, and delivering hundreds of packages to people’s front doors. Even our church giving, after dipping to 50% for two weeks, has risen; our church has responded and is giving generously in ways that will transform lives. I am so proud of Covenant Grove. I am honored and humbled to lead and serve with such an amazing group of people.
As we move forward, our focus is to follow Jesus and move His mission forward. Our church is reaching new people, and we will be working to get more new people connected and growing closer to Christ. We will continue having video worship services. I know it is not the same as being present, but God is working in new ways to bless individuals and families who are learning to worship, really reflect, and have deeper conversations about Jesus. More people are adding daily devotions and other spiritual disciplines to their lives and discovering the Lord’s power and peace. People in our church are serving our world through making masks, buying medicine, caring for family, calling each other, support groups for moms, homeschooling help, and more.
Beginning this Sunday, our church will begin a Hope Initiative. You may recall that our church is in a capital initiative called Building Hope–and yes, these two initiatives are connected. Our Mighty God is challenging each person reading this to go beyond “stay at home” into truly practical ways of sharing His hope with people. We will talk about how God’s hope is our anchor in the storm (Heb 6:19), and we will challenge people to live out five key ways to share God’s hope with others. We want to be practical, and so we have mailed out a Journal (which you can download from our website) for people to use. All ages of our Groups will be going through the material and holding each other accountable. Even as we stay home, there are practical ways to hold out His hope to others. We will have to challenge ourselves and each other. Please accept this challenge. Pray and participate in practical ways!
As we move into May, we will create some digital events for different age groups to help people connect and have fun. In June, we will do God at the Movies (home edition), covering movies from Netflix and home video. This will be a lot of fun, so be ready to invite others. Eventually, when shelter-in-place orders are lifted, our Life Groups will be able to meet face to face again (following all precautions), and I don’t think any of us will take meeting with other for granted ever again.
God is not done with our us; He is still at work, and He is just getting started. Our prayer this year was that the Lord would do the deep groundwork for Building Hope. Our request was that our Father would refine us, draw us closer to Himself, and prepare us for the a bigger Kingdom work in the future. We didn’t see a pandemic coming! But we do see the Spirit of God working in the midst of this crisis. Our church was born in the fire of the last Recession. It was hard…very hard. But it taught us to trust God and support each other in incredible ways. These times are hard…and will probably get harder. Yet God is not done with us; He is building His hope in the groundwork of our lives. I can’t wait to see the new things He will build on this strengthened foundation. Let His hope rise!