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November 17, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

A long time ago God led his people out of slavery in Egypt. God heard their cries for freedom and He did not forget His promise to them. He sent his servant Moses to the Pharaoh to demand the release of the people He called his very own; Israel, the sons and daughters of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.  Pharaoh's heart was hardened and God poured out judgment on the gods of Egypt proving once and for all that Yahweh was the one true God. Pharaoh was left utterly defeated and sent the Israelites away.

 

This might have seemed like a good way to end the story, but for Israel it was only the beginning. As it turned out, the sending away was when things got complicated. Yahweh had delivered Israel from Egypt but Egypt had not so easily removed itself from the hearts of Israel. This led to 40 years in “the wilderness” as Scripture so aptly describes it. That is, a place somewhere between deliverance from slavery and the place we want to be.

 

There is one thing we know for sure. During Israel’s refining in the desert God never forgot about them. He provided for them and He protected them. Manna was sent to fill their aching bellies and a pillar of cloud and fire led their way through the hot days and cold nights in the desert. He did this in spite of their idolatry, unfaithfulness, and grumblings. He did it because He had chosen them. He did it because of a promise to a man named Abram. He did it because He loved them.

 

Time in the wilderness is never fun but we need not fear it.  Indeed, for the believer, it is to be expected. Your journey with Christ bears a strong resemblance to your forefathers in the faith. You were rescued from slavery to sin and you are journeying towards the promise of a new land. In the meantime, there is a lot of desert to traverse, a lot of wilderness to navigate, and a lot of tasteless manna to consume. 

 

As you are already very much aware we are now heading into a second round of nationwide efforts to curb the spread of the stubborn Coronavirus. The new spike (not surprisingly) is being reflected in our fellowship as well, including hospitalizations. This wilderness before us is a place of confusion, sadness, and even anger; but it’s also a place of provision and protection. It’s a place where God still sends the manna of Christ to sustain his church and the covering of the Holy Spirit to empower it. It is a place where God is still very much present even when it feels like he’s not.

 

We believe that God will provide for us and protect us but we must do our part as well. Whenever God does a miracle in the Bible it’s in partnership with human beings. Moses extends his staff and God parts the Red Sea. The man in the Synagogue reaches out his non-existent hand and receives his healing. Even Israel had to gather the manna that was sent to them every day. God didn’t put it on their dining room table.

 

It is the position of the leadership at New Life that we will follow this biblical pattern. We will do all we can do and God will do what only he can do. There is nothing in Scripture, as far as we can tell, that commands or implies that faith and wisdom are at odds with each other. Thus far, churches have been exempted from any and all of the recommendations. We should be thankful for this since the church is the only organization that has been given this privilege. This is all the more reason to take that privilege seriously and to do what is being asked of everybody else including our local businesses and schools. 
 

With that in mind this is what we have decided to do during this time:

 

  1. Sunday morning services will still be meeting in person with a few changes.

    1. First service is a mask required service. That means that any time you are up and walking around a mask is required. If you are seated and are more than 6 ft away from another person (not including family) you may remove your mask. 

    2. Second service is a mask recommended service. We would prefer for people to wear masks in all shared spaces such as when they arrive and when they are leaving. 

      1. We know that some people don’t want to wear masks. All we ask is that you remain respectful of social distancing guidelines as you have already been doing. You are not less loved because you choose not to wear a mask!

    3. Sunday School will still take place on Sunday.

  2. All non-Sunday activities are being put on hold for the time being. This includes:

    • Wednesday nights for adults, youth and children.

    • Monday night classes.

    • Any other extra curricular activities in the building.

  3. The staff at New Life is committed to once again provide online resources during this time for our adults, youth, and children. 

  4. The church office will remain open. We want you to be assured that we will very much be engaged in the work of the ministry for your sake. As usual, if you want to meet with a pastor we are available to you personally for spiritual guidance.

 

Please remember that these guidelines pertain to New Life’s building as a facility in which people gather to worship. It should not be viewed as a guide to your personal convictions, how you instruct your families in the faith, or your interpretation of Scripture. Neither is it connected to any political ideology or affiliation. It is simply the way we think is best to proceed in this Covid wilderness that God is leading us through. We will protect and provide for each other and God will protect and provide for his church. We love you and we are thankful for you! 


 

In Christ, 

 

Pastor Tim