March 2021. Can you believe that it has been almost a year since our vocabulary started including words like pandemic, COVID, masks and others as we entered into an unprecedented time - individually and as a church family. I know that these have been times that have tried all of us. It has taken us away from our routines and our predictability. But it has also been a time that has pushed us to try new things and to find new ways to “be church.” And I am so grateful for everything that you have done! You are the best!
I must admit that last March, I had no idea that the pandemic and its ramifications would last this long. Yet, they have. And as I write this to you, I am feeling optimistic about the future. Many are receiving the COVID vaccine and the numbers of those infected are slowly declining. We are also grateful to know that the number of deaths are also showing a downward trend. It certainly is a time to be hopeful – but we must remain diligent in our efforts – and in our prayers.
In the coming days, we will begin the process of planning for re-opening the HBC facility and embarking on a new chapter of ministry together. While many (including myself) would like to see us to immediately return to the way things were prior to the pandemic, the truth of the matter is that it will be different. We will need to dream again. We will need to begin asking the questions about where God is leading us and what He is calling us to be. The church is a living organism. It has life. It has a purpose. And it has you and me.
As your pastor, I want to encourage you to pray about all that is happening and what lies before us as a church family. I love the church. I always have, and I always will. And I know that you love it, too. Here’s why.
First, it is the body of Christ. Any reasonable understanding of that term and the way it is described in the New Testament makes clear the fact we cannot be part of Christ unless we are part of the body. The fact we are a part of Christ’s body should be a sober realization on our part. We need each other. Period.
Second, the church is the bride of Christ. Every husband wants his bride treated with gentleness, respect, and loving care. Throughout Scripture the people of God are referred to as the bride. Our loving care of the bride – – building it up, treating it with respect – – shows our love for the bride. If Christ loved the church, we should love it as well.
Third, the church belongs to Christ. He described it as “my church.” He built it. He cares for it, and he nurtures it.
Fourth, the church is the hope of the world. Nothing in the world can bring about as much positive good as the church. I am well aware that the church has plenty of “spots and blemishes,” but I am also aware that it has the potential to serve God and to make him known throughout the world. The church can make a huge difference. It certainly did in my life. The church pointed me to Christ. It taught me Scripture and good theology. It gave me loving relationships and a picture of people who were unwavering in their faith and fully devoted to God. More than anything else, the church provided a place for me to hear the call of God. It still does.
May God bless Hazelwood – His church. Let’s dream, Hazelwood. And pray.
You are loved