We are meeting inside the building for Sunday Worship! Welcome!
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit our lives like an unexpected early Spring tornado. We have gone from hearing distant warnings and reports to being largely confined to our homes, worship service halted, AWANA suspended until local schools are opened, travel plans canceled, etc. etc. etc.
For us as Christ followers, this has hit us in a very unusual way. We have long heard accounts of the early Christians or Christ-followers in oppressed countries being harassed or forbidden to meet. Here, we are told by our state authorities not to meet in order to comply with the social distancing rules of not meeting with more than 10 people or staying at least six feet away from one another.
This is particularly difficult because Christianity not only instructs but celebrates and requires us to gather together.
So, how do we practice our faithfulness to Christ and to one another?
First, we must keep in mind that this is a health care emergency, not a suppression of religious liberties. Our staying apart will actually speed up the time when we can again gather together. It is just like being responsible when we have a bad cold. Instead of being the purveyor of germs (and subsequent illness) to all around us, intentionally giving a healthy distance is a paramount way of showing love to one another.
Second, while we chafe at the idea of quarantine and don’t want to be quarantined ourselves, we need to remind ourselves that this is a biblically prescribed method of containing contagious diseases. Leviticus 13 & 14 give detailed instructions on how to curb the spread of infectious diseases. Long before the development of microbiology and the understanding of bacteria and viruses, God gave sound community health guidelines for the preservation of his people.
Third, we can be creative and continue our life together while still staying apart. We live with a vast array of communication tools stemming from the telephone to cell phones, social media apps and internet worship experiences. While we are not physically together, we are not hindered by spending time together on social media, praying together and encouraging one another in Christ. We have setup care groups so that all in our church maintain personal contact with one another and the broader church family.
Fourth, we can still work together in our mutual goals as a church. Many of you have gone out of your way to send your weekly offering to church. Some have mailed checks, given online or even dropped off personal checks. This allows the ongoing support and functioning of pastoral staff, maintains our facility for when we again gather together, and enables us to continue support to the missionaries our church supports in various countries around the world.
Fifth, we need to look for opportunities to serve one another, our neighbors and the broader community. Those without a church family are acutely feeling the effects of the national response to combat COVID-19. There is already a call to help the elderly, assist in delivering meals to shut-ins and low-income families.
While we are not physically together, we remain fully united in life and purpose. Our separation is temporary. The most distant guidelines are recommending 8-10 weeks. Hopefully, we will be together in a much shorter time. Until then, let’s persevere “so that with one heart and mind [we} may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6)
Don’t hesitate to call if you, or someone you know, needs something during this time.
Pastor Lee Scheumann
March 22, 2020 Part 2
March 22, 2020 part 1
This has been a very busy week as we have been adopting to a new normal for our nation. Here is what we are looking at for the next few weeks.
Public worship will remain canceled until directives from national and state guidelines will allow us to resume. This will be the same for AWANA.
We have established an account with zoom.com and will be conducting as many meetings as possible online instead of in person.
We have organized 15 couples as Care Team Leaders. The Care Teams have been assigned members and friends of Oxlip in order to retain a sense of community and connectiveness during this time. They will be making telephone contact, offering an opportunity for prayer, encouragement, support and presence. If any of you need assistance in purchasing food or prescriptions, they will be of assistance to you.
I encourage each of you to “buddy up” with someone for personal encouragement and support. What each of us are experiencing is common to all and we can help one another by “being there” for each other.
I want to remind you of online resources available at no charge: Right Now Media and grace101.org. Both provide extensive video libraries for both education and inspiration. Grace Media has over 10,000 resources. Grace101 has several great teaching seminars including Crisis101 and Worship 101. Both are available at oxlip.org. Grace 101 sign in: OEFC Password: oefc
Pastor Brad and I are keeping regular office hours and are available for counsel, prayer and encouragement. If we are not available at the office, please feel free to call us at home or on our cell phones.
We need to keep in mind that this is a national health care emergency and our not gathering is in response to our need to support and cooperate on what is being expected of all people in our nation. This is not an infringement or attack on religious liberty and should not be construed in this manner.
We are living in extraordinary times and require extraordinary responses in order to mitigate this pandemic in the fastest and safest manner.
We need to support one another and to be supportive of our national, state and local leaders. I am encouraged by the bi-partisan support for emergency initiatives which have been presented and implemented. Please keep all in your prayers.
God bless and keep you in His peace.
March 29, 2020
Remember life a month ago? I was looking forward to a week in Florida, AWANA was anticipating the Grand Prix, couples were busy with wedding plans, Easter worship was in the planning stages, the snow was finally melting, Spring was on its’ way.
Now we are under “shelter in place” guidelines, worship services indefinitely canceled, internet church services at home are encouraged instead, many are wearing face masks, washing hands more times a day than we ever imagined, canceling family gatherings, caring greatly about elderly parents and very concerned about just about everybody.
How drastic things can change in three weeks.
I walk through our church and it has strange signs of abandonment. Repair projects started, but not completed, posters of events which never happened and no plans for Holy Week services.
We have all started to feel vulnerable. Do the packages left at the door have the virus? What about the door handle at the gas station? I start seeing a lot of people wearing masks, should I as well? What about my job, 401k, paying the mortgage, etc.?
Where is God in all of this?
The book of Job brings us clearly into the discussion of the problem of suffering and evil. The book begins with a behind the scenes debate between God and Satan over the fidelity of Job if his comfortable lifestyle were taken away. Would he remain faithful? Will we remain faithful if this pandemic stays around for a year or two as some have predicted?
Job was never given insight into what had gone on in the throne room of God regarding the debate between God and Satan. When God finally does speak in the last four chapters, no explanation is ever given as to the “why” of the suffering he experienced. In God’s response, He chronicles in full detail the majesty of his power, authority, wisdom and grace. This is often the case for the rest of us.
So where is God in a coronavirus world?
The only conclusion Job reaches in all his questioning is found in Job 23:8-12:
8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
We may never know the intended purpose of God in our current coronavirus pandemic. What we do know is that He remains in control of all human events, He works in ways which are often hidden and seldomly disclosed.
What we do know is that adversity is always essential for the formation of godly character (Romans 5:3-8), that we live in a world which groans under the weight of sin (Romans 8:22:-25) and whatever happens is intended by God for the formation of Christ-like character (Romans 8:28-30).
Peter reminds us that suffering is part of our calling as Christ followers. “in this (your salvation) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials’ (I Peter 1:6). This has an intended result: “These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes, even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:7)
God is present in the coronavirus pandemic and He will reveal His purposes in His time.
Pastor Lee Scheumann
Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020
It's Good Friday & while we're not able to meet face to face, Oh! what a sweet reunion that will be! We do want to share with you a reflection from Pastor Lee. click on the link above
In reflecting on what occurred in Jerusalem on the Friday we call Good when Jesus was crucified, consider these words:
In the Jewish mind crucifixion was a particularly execrable way to die. It was tantamount to the hanging on a tree Moses described in Deuteronomy 21:22–23: “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” The Mosaic law also required that all executions occur outside the city walls (Numbers 15:35; cf. Hebrews 13:12).
The Romans had a slightly different concept. They made sure that all crucifixions took place near major thoroughfares in order to make the condemned person a public example for all passersby. So Jesus’ crucifixion took place outside the city, but in a heavily trafficked location carefully selected to make Him a public spectacle.
The place where Jesus was crucified was called Calvary (a Latin adaptation of the Greek term that appears in the biblical text: kranion, “a skull”—Luke 23:33). The Aramaic name for it was Golgotha, also meaning, “a skull.” Nowhere in Scripture is it called a hill, but it is generally assumed that this spoke of a promontory, craggy knoll, or incline that had the appearance of a skull. There is such a place, known as Gordon’s Calvary, just north of Jerusalem’s city walls. It still can be seen today and still bears an uncanny resemblance to a human skull.
Matthew writes, “And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink” (Matthew 27:33–34). Apparently just before they nailed Him to the cross, the soldiers offered Him this bitter drink. “Sour wine” is vinegar. “Gall” is something that tastes bitter. Mark 15:23 says the bitter substance was myrrh, which acts as a mild narcotic. The soldiers may have offered it for its numbing effect just before they drove the nails through the flesh. When Jesus tasted what it was, He spat it out. He did not want His senses numbed. He had come to the cross to be a sin bearer, and He would feel the full effect of the sin He bore; He would endure the full measure of its pain. The Father had given Him a cup to drink more bitter than the gall of myrrh, but without the stupefying effect. His heart was still steadfastly set on doing the will of the Father, and He would not anesthetize His senses before He had accomplished all His work.
The vinegar and gall fulfilled a Messianic prophecy from Psalm 69:19–21 (ESV)
19 You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. 20 Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.
21 1 They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
Our savior Jesus suffered and died, on our behalf taking on Him not only the pain and shame of the cross, but our sin as well. He was cursed so we could be reconciled with God!
April 10, 2020
If you didn't make it to our Drive In Church, Check out Pastor Lee's sermon here.
A significant part of current discussion is “will we go back to normal after the COVID-19 virus finally subsides, vaccines become readily available and the economy (hopefully) recovers?” Going back to normal is often cast as the resumption of sports on all levels from professional to youth athletics, large scale concerts and leisure time at the lake, the economy booming as before.
But do we really want to go back to normal?
What was normal really like before COVID-19?
Here is what life was like:
No, the normal of the pre-COVID-19 days wasn’t all that great. Do we really want to go back the old normal?
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to think of others.
So, what will be the new normal? It can be a better normal if we are willing to make the individual and collective decisions which sets the tone for a better future.
I am reminded of the transformation on Jewish society having spent 70 years in exile in Babylon. When they returned to Israel, they were a different people in a number of ways.
So, what will be our new normal? It is now for us to make the decisions which will impact not only our lives but the lives who follow us.
When Joshua brought the nation of Israel to the shores of the Jordan River, he realized that they were entering into a new normal. His words remain true for us today.
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Pastor Lee Scheumann
Sunday, April 19, 2020
If you didn't make it to our Drive-In Church, check out Pastor Lee's sermon here