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Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday - A Pastoral Encouragement

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.   Eph. 4:1-3   
We, like many other churches and pastors are discovering how challenging it is to resume corporate worship on the heels of a pandemic.  There are so many practical details to consider in our desire to honor the Lord, serve our church family and be a witness to our community.  How do we honor social distancing concerns while still promoting loving Christian fellowship?  How do we navigate through the issue of wearing masks?  Should we place limits on attendance and have multiple services? How do we best serve families with infants and young children?  How do we do our due diligence  to provide guidelines for meeting while at the same time honor and believe that people will make good decisions that consider the needs of others without mandates?  How do we do all of this in a way that is loving and above reproach in the eyes of our community so that we don’t give the enemy ammunition to mock God.  
But perhaps the most challenging part of all is how to do all the above in a time in our world where there are such strongly held opinions, fears and apprehensions about the aforementioned.  When we look at the political and social media landscape, it is not hard to see that we live in an age of rage and rant.  We live in a world in which disagreement requires dislike (even disdain) which results in division.  How does the church face it’s own disagreements about controversial issues and actually leverage them into a testimony of the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ?  
This is where it gets exciting!!!  Against this dark backdrop, Christ’s church can shine brighter than the stars in the midnight sky!!!  The church is the first of the larger gatherings to resume.  How do we do it for the glory of God and as a witness to the world?  We recognize that everyone has different convictions and comfort levels about how and when to resume corporate worship.  We seek to continue to advance the mission of making disciples while leaving no brother or sister behind or on the margins.  As Paul said, we walk in humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!!!  As Jesus said, "They will know we are Christians by our love!!!   
We can/will, disagree about how to do things at SGC but there is no disagreement about why we do what we do.  Our allegiance is to the King of Kings who has called us to glorify Him through engaging in His mission of making disciples of Christ.  This is why we can disagree without disliking others.  This is why we don’t allow the door to division to open because we are all hurt by it’s effects.  Let’s do all we can to guard the unity Christ purchased for us at the cross through gathering this Sunday in humility, patience, readiness to serve and with a passion for edification of one another!  You already do this well!!!  Let’s seek to excel even more!
As you prepare for Sunday, whether you participate through the livestream or at the building, please consider how we can all serve the people who join us who may be apprensive to be in a larger group right now.  Let’s consider the lessons we can learn from the people who are more confident to meet.  Let’s consider the needs of the first time guest and how hard it can be to visit a church for the first time during the best of times, let alone during a pandemic!   And let’s remember the needs for care and fellowship of those who are need to stay home for the time being. Here are our suggested guidelines for helping you determine if you should stay home or attend.  As we seek God’s glory in all of this, the light of Christ will shine as brightly through SGC!!!
I cannot wait to see all who can come to worship with us tomorrow!!!  Our text will be Hebrews 7:1-28.  Please know we are praying for each and every one of you!!!
God bless and keep you!!!