Dear Church Family,
All of your shepherds deeply miss seeing you on (at least) a regular, weekly basis. We are really looking forward to worshiping together in the same building.
Currently we have not heard of anyone in our church family that has contracted the coronavirus However, Minnie’s daughter, Sophia is in Northside Hospital with COVID-19 and Jeraldine’s brother-in-law, Eddie is hospitalized with COVID-19 in Warner Robbins. There are many others who need our prayers; please check the daily prayer list for details. We ask that you pray for them daily. We also encourage you to check on our brothers and sisters as often as you can.
If you know of other needs or have those you want to be added to the prayer list you can contact the church office or contact the elders. The church number is 770-926-8838 and the elders email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, if you are able to help those in need please let the office know. It is gratifying to see the caring Christian attitude displayed during this difficult time.
We are thankful and pleased to hear from many of you that our congregation continues to meet as individual families every first day of the week to pray, sing songs of praise to the Lord, partake of the Lord’s supper, study God’s word and to give of our means. Matt continues to provide a Sunday morning lesson that is available at 10:00am each Sunday and a midweek bible study that is available each Wednesday at 5:00pm or anytime afterwards. Each of these is on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/woodstockchurchofchrist . It is also gratifying to see that you are contributing to the Lord’s work very well. Your offering can be mailed to the church building. The building address is Woodstock Church of Christ, 219 Rope Mill Rd., Woodstock, GA 30188.
We also have an online offering option called “Givelify”. You can use this application on your smartphone or from the online site. The link below will take you to the page. If you have questions regarding this payment method, we will be happy to answer your questions or help you set up the application. The following is a link to our Givelify page: https://giv.li/6lyqwe
If you have online bill pay with your bank, you can use that tool to make your weekly offering as well.
Please remember that as you study and worship, the invitation of the Lord is always open. Even though we are separated, we can respond to God’s invitation to ask for prayers where we have failed. We can arrange for anyone to put on Christ in baptism and become a Christian. Please get in touch with any of the Elders if you would like your response to be made public or if we can assist with a baptism. There would be no greater joy than for someone to respond to the Lord’s invitation.
Currently, the building will remain closed and services suspended until at least mid-May. We are aware there has been a degree of opening in Georgia beginning this week. However, we are also aware that there remain restrictions on social distancing and seniors, especially those with underlying medical conditions. We have come to this decision out of an abundance of caution and concern for the physical wellbeing of all members of our church family. We will continually monitor the situation and keep you updated you as plans change. It is our prayer we will begin to see a light at the end of this tunnel and we can begin to phase back into a more normal church environment and assembly schedule.
In Christian Love,
As the writer of this week’s message, I want to share (in a paraphrased form) something that some friends shared with us. I have removed all personal references. It is a powerful story about faith.
Faith in God
The thought of people around us dying is a terrifying thought. We all know that death is a part of life, but we do not usually spend a great deal of time thinking about it. Yet most of us are tuning in to a news station at least once a day right now to hear the death toll that COVID-19 has taken in different parts of the world, different parts of the country, and different parts of our state. It is a pandemic, the likes of which we will probably not see again in this century. It is new, unknown, and unpredictable. And it’s scary.
Some things about serious illnesses that are impossible to learn in any type of “normal” life situation; this knowledge and understanding can only be forged by trials. We have a similar opportunity for growth in this present crisis, and I know the Lord wants to encourage us all to take heart.
We ALL like to see the path in front of us before we take a step. And when possible, wisdom would tell us to do exactly that! However, living by faith often means we have to take a step before we know where our foot will land. Therefore, we take that step. And we take the next step. And we keep on doing that until we grow a little more accustomed to trusting the Lord with all our unknowns. We keep on facing our feelings of fear, sadness, confusion, and helplessness; and asking Him to show us what to do with them. We keep on taking those steps until we finally land in a space where the path becomes a little clearer again, and perhaps we reach a different season of life where we have a reasonable sense of knowing where we’re walking. However, sometimes that does not happen for a long time, and our ONLY security is knowing that the One whose hand we are holding will not let us slip and fall. He is there for every part of the journey, and we can let him do the heavy lifting when we cannot see anything around us but fog. He calls us to Himself, to a great love that gives us unexplainable peace even in the midst of chaos and heartbreak. He sees the big picture that we cannot see, and He knows we are not even capable of handling such knowledge. Moreover, He does not ask us to.
One of my favorite books is The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, who survived the Holocaust but lost many of her family members and friends during it. There is a passage in this book where Corrie relates a time she and her father were riding on the train together when she was 10 or 11 years old, before things in the country got really bad. She had read a line of poetry in school that she did not understand, and she knew she couldn’t ask her questions at home without all of her aunts joining in the discussion. Corrie had a special relationship with her father, and she took any chance she could get to have time with him alone.
And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sex-sin?”
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
“And I was satisfied,” she writes in the book. “More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”
As Corrie faced concentration camps and experiences too horrible to imagine, she said “it was father’s train case once again. Such cruelty was too much to grasp, too much to bear.” And she would cry out, “Heavenly Father carry it for me!” And she would let Him do exactly that.
So we must let the Lord carry our fears and worries and questions during this time where so many are sick and dying or living on their last available paycheck.
So it is during this time of quarantine, with so many facing trauma and with such widespread panic and sorrow all around us. Is it okay for us to still be happy while working out in our lawn? To smile and turn our face towards the sun when there are people dying by the thousands? Shouldn’t we all be sad all the time, or glued to the TV in case somehow our worry and sadness can help ease that of others? That is not what I find when I look at the lives of the early Christians. Of course there are times when we will be filled with grief and sorrow. Those times are often when we draw closest to the Lord and seek His face the most. But when I look at the early church, I find people who were determined to take joy in simple blessings and who went on singing praises even when locked in jail cells. I see people who stood alongside each other in their times of grief and sorrow but who also had a firm grasp on HOPE that springs eternal. It’s the idea of “and/both” rather than “either/or”. We can be devastated for the sorrows around us and still grateful for the comfort of our Father. We can be happy that our legs are strong enough to take us on a walk and also sad about all the places they can’t take us during this time of quarantine. And in all situations, we can take everything we’re thinking and feeling to the Lord, and we can KNOW He is able to handle it. God’s got this. Whether we can make any sense of it or not, He is God and He is able. His thoughts are so far above ours, and his ways are beyond our understanding.
So take heart, dear friends. In all things, the Lord of the universe is still in control, and He is working in each of us to do great things. There is beauty in the process! I truly believe that learning to live in peace even with the waters raging all around us is possibly the most important lesson in faith we – and our children– could possibly have.