Waiting is hard, but we are working to help you through the transition. And no matter what, we are on mission!
Whether on campus or online, we are still on mission!
Part of that mission this week was to bring help and hope to the racial and cultural anxiety we are experiencing. (Watch last week's message.) I Corinthians says when part of the body suffers, the other parts suffer with it. And that is true right now as our black brothers and sisters are hurting. As I ponder what we collectively need to do as a church (or as individuals) to reach across these divides, I ask you to pray, read and listen. Doing these things will then inform your action. There are literally hundreds of articles, blogs and books being written and read right now, so please invest some time doing that. Here are a couple I read just this week:
George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston
Ministry Friend Recalls Floyd as 'Person of Peace' Who Led Basketball Outreach
Mourning a Loss and Doing the Necessary Work To End Racism
Someone forwarded a post on Facebook they saw with a good perspective:
One of the key lessons we've been working on lately with our boys is cleaning up. One of their first instinctive responses, "But I didn't get that out" or "I didn't make that mess." We've been trying to tell them that human reality is having to clean up messes that we knowingly or unknowingly contributed to. I tell them constantly, "Boys, I clean up messes every single day of my life that I didn't make." This is life. This is human reality.
One of the callings of Christianity is participating in the cleanup of messes, even the ones you think you had nothing to do with. And when you clean up, the messier the situation, the messier you're going to get. Racism, violence, white supremacy, militarism, political ideology, these are big freaking messes. Christians, we can act like children and argue "I didn't do that!" or "I didn't make that mess!" or even worse, pretend like there isn't a mess. There's a mess. We participated, knowingly or unknowingly.
So instead of defending our innocence or lack of culpability, we can dive in and help clean it up. It's going to cost you. You will have to step out of long held comfort zones. It will stretch you. You will get incredibly messy. You will have to sacrifice. Such is the nature of following Christ.
Grab a shovel people, we've got heartbreaking work to do.
As our state and culture begins to relax events and activities, we also are transitioning in June to some drive-through and drop-in options on our campus (outside). We are hosting our first ever Drive-Thru Communion/Prayer Service this Sunday, June 7, 8:30-10am or 6-7:30pm here on our campus. It will be safe, simple, and short. Please drive over and participate... Donna and I can't wait to wave hello. Watch for other worship and connection events being organized to be held outside on campus in June. Remember, Whitewater Crossing has never really closed, so whether on campus or online, we are still on mission!
Thanks for your continued prayers and patience. We are probably in the 3rd inning of a 9-inning game (maybe even extra innings!). It's a whole new ball game! We continue to be agile and flexible with all our church programming as we respond to our rapidly changing environment. As such, we still are not setting a date yet for in-person, inside Sunday gatherings. Our recent church survey revealed a good number of people are comfortable with returning to in-person gatherings in the near future, but many of the survey respondents still have concerns if they return. These concerns are primarily centered around their own safety related to masks and large crowds. Another large number of people are simply not comfortable with the idea of gathering again for in-person services. We clearly have a diverse group of people and comfort levels in our community, and we love and respect each position and person.
We were encouraged to see the vast majority of Whitewater is engaging online each week, but we are concerned a large majority are not connected in any kind of smaller group - even if virtually at this time. Our staff are cooking on some ideas to help us connect better as a church family. The survey also revealed that worshiping together is the thing most people are looking forward to when gathering together again. We know worship is tough to duplicate online, but we also know God is pleased, no matter the size of the room singing to Him. So let not your hearts be troubled my friends and flock.
It is tough for me to wait. Maybe you, too! So I will leave you with some words Dr. Grubbs sent to his class that are worth chewing on:
Why is a waiter called a waiter when the person sitting at the table is waiting? Who actually is the waiter? The sitter or the server? In Old English, a "waiter" was a servant who was expected to attend to the needs/wishes of the guests in the manor. He/she "waited in expectation" to serve them. Those waiting-servers were called "waiters" and that designation stuck for hundreds of years.
It is evident that we Americans culturally are not very good at waiting. That flaw is being exposed during the Covid-19 lockdown as social-distancing morphs into social disruption. Alcohol sales, food intake, family and social violence, has soared. Memorial Day became a tipping point. The veneer was ripped off as people threw aside the imposed restrictions and escaped to the beaches, boats and public parks; where they were joined by some who had declared and were enforcing the lockdown.
The Bible repeatedly instructs believers to "Wait on the Lord"; or if you read from modern American translations to "Hope in the Lord." But what is the Bible really saying? To wait or hope? To sit or serve, to wish or trust? Does it call us to an active or passive behavior? The original Hebrew word carried the idea of one having an active-patient-expectant attitude toward God -- of being a "waiter" in God's manor house. Many of us love how the old KJV translated Isaiah 40:31, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint."
Here is my paraphrased understanding of what Isaiah 40:29-31 is saying,
"God provides strength to his weary children, power to the weak.
Even young people grow tired and weary, and strong people slip and fall;
but those who wait on the Lord will have their strength renewed.
They will soar high above it all, as though on eagles' wings.
They will run and run and run; but never get tired.
They will walk on and on and on; and never faint with exhaustion."
Why can God's waiters do this? Because "The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He never grows tired or weary; and no one can probe the depths of his understanding." (Isaiah 40:28). Be a "waiter" in God's manor. Wait upon Him. The pay is out of this world.
We wait on many things this week... from racial reconciliation to in-person gatherings to recovery from the coronavirus.
Waiting with you.
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