Greetings Mountain View Hope Family and Friends!
This is a most unexpected way to be delivering this material I had been preparing to share in the form of a sermon today, but here we are - in the midst of the spread of a global pandemic - and we have made the choice to not gather for public worship. I want to reiterate how difficult a choice that was to make. If you didn’t receive or see our email and facebook announcement regarding the temporary suspension of our worship services, you can read it here.
While it is tempting to be lured into the hysteria of the world around us with each and every new news story that comes out, I want to offer words of reassurance and hope to each of you.
Every Sunday, we proclaim a gospel of HOPE for the world - we regularly talk about how the good news of Jesus offers us hope for today and hope for eternity - and that we are called to lives of sacrifice and surrender, of love for God and our neighbors, in Christ. And that means that we may experience hardship in our lifetime, but we cling to the hope and the promise of lives fully united in Christ one day beyond our earthly experience. It is times like this that test our faith in Jesus more than when everything is comfortable and easy, but times like this are also an opportunity to show the world what the love of Jesus looks like in a tangible way.
We may not DO church on Sundays for a few weeks, but we will have many chances to BE church every day. Please lean into those opportunities - allow God to test and stretch your faith; there are many people out there experiencing fear and anxiety right now - and we have the answer. We know where hope is found. May we be found running toward the crisis and not away from it, so that many will know the life-saving hope that we have in Jesus.
I was tempted to scrap this Sunday’s sermon and instead preach online about how Christians should respond and react in this time… why we should not be afraid… why we should be beacons of hope and light instead. That is a message that we may need to hear, but I’ve chosen to let you hear it from someone else. Every now and then, we preach through sermon series’ produced by Life Church, a Covenant Church in Oklahoma of all places. And their pastor, Craig Groeschel gave a sermon about this on Friday night. Certainly they have a different church and church culture than us, but the word of God is always the word of God and is good for all of us. I have watched this sermon in its entirety and would recommend it to you if you find yourself with the time to watch it. It’s about as long as one episode of whatever you’re watching on Netflix instead, so I think it’s worth your time. You can view it on YouTube here.
Now, regarding today and God’s word for us. During Lent, we have been listening to the stories that Jesus told - his Parables. And rather than just sending you my manuscript to read through for yourself, I want to offer you an opportunity to experience this parable by engaging it yourself, more like a Bible Study or devotional. Sermons are written in a particular way to be a public proclamation of God’s word and they don’t necessarily “read well”. Instead of reading something for 15-20 minutes to yourself, perhaps you can take 30 minutes or more and experience God’s word right where you are. If you are home with your family, do this experience together; maybe invite people into your home and share in this experience as a smaller group. Social distancing does not mean “stay away from everyone”, but be wise in the way you interact with people. Wash your hands when you enter peoples’ homes. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t cough on people. Don’t touch your face (SO HARD TO DO!). But by all means, continue to live in relationship with one another. Spend time together studying God’s word and growing in faith. Include your children! However you choose to engage this material and whoever you choose to engage it with, my prayer is that God would reveal himself to you in a fresh and powerful way and that you would be called deeper into faith because of it. The devotional guide and my notes are available below.
Peace be with you all.