March 18, 2020
Peace to you in our Lord Jesus! I'm guessing that life feels pretty crazy to us all right now and is about to get even more challenging. I wanted to reach out to you today to share a few thoughts with you as your pastor. At the end of this email you will find some practical information which you will find helpful.
The primary message that I speak to you today is "Let's stay connected" .One of the primary enemies right now is isolation. The enemy would love for you to get stuck in feeling like you are alone, no one cares about you and that there is no hope. These are lies. God has poured out His gifts so that we can agree with Paul when he says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). God is always abundantly providing for us in every situation especially through the presence of Jesus (and the body of Christ) in our lives. How can you open your eyes, your hands and seek out what He is offering you?
The first step to answering this is that you must find time to be with the Father. He will not invade your life. He waits patiently for you to make space to be with Him. He wants your attention and your open heart. He'll even take a distracted few minutes and a frazzled brain. The point is that God wants to love you and He won't do that without your participation. So please make space for God. It's especially important now in this time which sometimes feels like wartime.
The second key to being able to have your eyes be spiritually open is that you must be woven into spiritual community. If you try to walk through this unprecedented difficulty spiritually, mentally and spiritually alone, you will be lost. I am not kidding you. If you let yourself slip away from the encouragement and reality check of the people of God you do so at your own peril. This is why the scripture says to us. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25) We were made to follow Jesus together and not by ourselves even in the time of the novel coronavirus. Let's work out our faith together. Let's support each other. Let's encourage each other.
To that end, I exhort you to find ways to connect to what God is doing in our church community in the following ways:
1. Virtual Church Life Meeting. We held our very first "virtual" Church Life Meeting on Wednesday, March 25. It was a great time of socially distant-fellowship and prayer, where we also discussed and shared different ideas on how to love our neighbors and especially serve those serving on the front lines of this Coronavirus crisis, such as all those in the medical and healthcare fields. You can watch the recording of the meeting here. You can find a list of ways to help during this time here.
2. Daily Prayer Meetings. Starting Thursday, March 19, we will be hosting virtual prayer meetings using the video software Zoom at various times every day of the week. These will be offering Intercession or Lectio Divina, an ancient prayer practice, so choose which you are more comfortable with, or try both! You can click here for a listing of all the options to join during the week.
3. Social media. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. But for the time being, it will be an important way for our church to connect so would you please visit our church Facebook, Instagram pages now and then? We will be using it as a hub for information and updates as things continue to change so quickly. https://www.facebook.com/pavineyard/
Additionally, we've created a Facebook group where you can share ideas, post questions and interact with people in our church about navigating life and faith in the midst of this coronavirus crisis. https://www.facebook.com/groups/621723338377431/.
4. Video worship and testimonies. Please subscribe to the Palo Alto Vineyard Church's channel on YouTube. There you will find our Sunday morning worship service videos as well as a series we're calling #3minstories. Several times a week we'll be post a 2-3 minute sharing from someone in our church reflecting on how they are doing and what faith means to them in this time. If you'd like to share a video of yourself, can you let me know? Please invite your friends, family and neighbors to view our church services (which can be shared in sections).
5. Small groups. As I've mentioned before, if you are not in a small group yet, small groups are now meeting virtually through Zoom. You are absolutely welcome to join one now. Just email and I will get you connected.