• Excerpt from November, 2020 "The Mountain Top Messenger" newsletter...

    November, only one month left after this one, in this crazy year of 2020, what a strange year it has been and seeing as it has a whole two more months to go I will leave the season wrap up for next month...
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November 2020 "The Mountain Top Messenger" Newsletter
(please click on above link to open current newsletter)

November, only one month left after this one, in this crazy year of 2020, what a strange year it has been and seeing as it has a whole two more months to go I will leave the season wrap up for next month. What I will say is this, I don't think anyone could have, nor would have predicted the impacts that the COVID-19 virus has had on our daily routines and most of the simple things we can count on. Things like work, shopping, gathering with family and friends, church, school, and just about anything else you can imagine. When was the last time you shook some one's hand, or gave a hug? And if you did to any of those things, I am guessing it was done with perhaps a bit of trepidation or caution. It's that, do I reach a hand out or not, do I bathe in hand sanitizer when I am done or not. As the numbers climb, I can't help but feel part of it is simply due to the fact we are a social people and you can’t keep us bottled up forever. It tends to make me wonder, and perhaps you as well, where is the tipping point? When does it change? Do we go back? Can we go back? If you think about it is a vaccine the answer? If it works as well as the seasonal flu vaccine you might get a best 60% coverage, and how do you know if it worked for you. Does that thing called herd immunity kick in and eventually we reach the point where everyone has either had it or at least been exposed and developed immunity? I believe the next twelve months will shake out at least some of those answers.

So, you might ask at this point, Pastor, where the heck are you going with this? Well, let me try to explain where I am positioned on all of this. I believe in some cases, perhaps some of the things that have been done have gone overboard, I also understand that particularly here in the church we are dealing with a significant group of at risk people, simply by age range, not to mention any of the underlying conditions. With that being said, I feel that we have to do the best we can to limit our direct contact, to maintain social distancing, to wash our hands on a regular basis, to wear a face mask. We can maintain and perhaps even grow church in the context we have been doing. I believe God has given us all a base level of common sense and if we use common sense to operate as safely as we can, we can continue. I believe when you start pushing the envelope, when you start saying things like some of those mega-church pastors do, like "God will protect us" or "God will keep us safe and healthy", you begin to put God to the test, and if there is one thing scripture tells us, God does not like it when we put him to the test. I believe there was a little 40-year journey involved when Israel put God to the test.

So, what do we do, we use the resources, skills, gifts, and abilities that God has given us to carry on His work in the best and safest way possible. I do believe God cares for and watches over His people. Last Sunday we sang "A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, which Martin Luther penned, based on Psalm 46. The first verse of that psalm tells us that very thing; "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." While we should not try and test God, we absolutely must trust him. I have been challenged these last many months, I rate fairly high on the at risk chart, I am over 65, have diabetes, am immunosuppressed, and have what the tell me is early onset COPD, when this all began I felt I had two options, I could lock myself in my house, order everything online and come out when it is over, I could live stream services from my laptop, and no one would know the better. Or I could continue using common sense and the best available safety practices continue to do what it is the Lord and you here at Zion have called me to do. I am thankful I have chosen the later.

I believe our online ministry has been a blessing to many, including many not of our original Zion family. We have an interesting well watched Wednesday evening prayer service. We are still reaching those who wish to attend live worship on Sundays, and with all of the safe distancing practices in place, we have baptized and added two little ones to the Book of Life, we have joined two couples in marriage before God, we have sent three people to their eternal rest with the Lord, and we have confirmed three of our young people. Ministry can continue, I have a few more baptisms in the pipe, and we are starting confirmation classes again. Is there a risk? Yes, there is, but these is also a benefit in doing the Lord's work. And at some point, one of two things will happen. I will either get vaccinated against the virus, or test positive for the virus, if and when one of those things happens, I will do the same thing that I do every morning when I get up, I will pray; "Lord, thank you for bringing me to this day, I place myself in your hands and pray that I will use the gifts you have given me to best of my ability, watch over me and keep me in your care." I will continue to the best of my God given abilities. I will do my best not to harm or endanger anyone and will do my best to share God's message of eternal hope with all of you. So, sit down, fasten our seatbelts, raise your tray table to the full upright and lock position and let's see where this ride takes us. After all this is a multiple destination flight, we don’t know all the stops in the middle, but we do know the final destination and it makes the rest of trip pale by comparison.

My friends take care, be safe, be healthy, and always be in the Lord.

The Lord Bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you Peace.
In His Service,
Pastor Rick