The Answer, My Friend

How many roads must a man walk down
before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
before she sleeps in the sand?
How many times must the cannon balls fly
before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
before it before it is washed to the sea?
How many years can some people exist
before they’re allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head
and pretend that he just doesn’ see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
before he can really see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
before he can hear people cry
How many deaths will it take ’til he knows
that too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

~ Bob Dylan

We Have Interns

Covid-19 can cancel all the mission trips and work camps, it can postpone the Senior banquets and completely dismantle Huddles, devos, and hang-outs. But it has no power against summer youth ministry interns. They’re here. And my office has become their target.  We are preparing right now to welcome our church family back to the physical building this Sunday for in-person assemblies. Part of that process involves taking down the hundreds of photos our church members had placed inside the worship center to represent them in their physical absence. So, late this morning, all those pictures wound up inside my four walls.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Central, Emily and Eli.

Elaine and Josh bear a little of the blame. But you two will bear the brunt of the pain.

Peace,

Allan

Did We Think About This?

The Scoop for Sunday

This is the video we put out today explaining the plan for reopening Central for public worship this coming Sunday May 31.

I would remind everyone that, regardless of when your church is opening, how they’re opening, and the ways they are leading the opening, everyone is doing the very best they can. This is all brand new to everybody. We’re all doing things we’ve never done before. And it’s not going to be perfect. We all know that going in: the plan is not going to please everybody.

Let’s all err on the side of protecting the vulnerable and loving our community. And let us draw near to God and to one another, in person, finally, with the humility and grace of our Lord Jesus.

Peace,

Allan

Pastor Pressures

From Scattered to Gathered: Part 3

 

If Sunday morning worship is a beach vacation — it’s real, it’s physical, sand in the toes, sun on the face — and online worship is not; but if coming together on Sundays under social distancing restrictions, mask guidelines, “Rip N Sip” communion kits, and a lot of our church family still quarantining at home is like sticking your finger in a four-year-old jar of sand — it’s just not the same, it’s diminished, not the way we remember, almost a let down — should we even do it?

Let me finally now make a case for it. I’m convinced we can practice the priority and the purpose of our gatherings, while not forgetting what we’ve learned and experienced while we’ve been scattered. And I believe a helpful text is Hebrews 10:19-25.

Since we have confidence, boldness, authorization to enter the very Holy of Holies; since we have the blood of Jesus and the body of Christ that opens up the door for us to come into the very presence of God himself; since we have been given access by our risen and reigning high priest to the very throne room of God — because of all those mind-blowing blessings we share together — let us.

Let us draw near to God in faith. Let us go in, right into his presence. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, that God has promised an eternal gathering someday, a forever community to which we will all ultimately belong together. Let us take care of each other. Let us love, encourage, and support one another. Let us not give up meeting together — for all these reasons. Let us not stop meeting together.

It’s a taste, right? It’s a foretaste of what’s coming. Our Sunday morning assemblies point to the day when all God’s people are gathered together — every tribe, language, people, and nation — in God’s presence with one another around his great banquet feast. Our church gatherings anticipate that, our worship services point to that. It’s a taste. It’s a glimpse. And when we’re all physically together in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit, we actually are really participating in that ultimate promised gathering.

“You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men and women, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” ~Hebrews 12:22-24

The assembly transcends time and space. We’re not meeting at 1401 South Madison in Amarillo, we’re gathering on Mount Zion! We’re in the heavenly Jerusalem! We’re not assembling with 600 people in a church building in Texas, we’re worshiping and eating and drinking with all of God’s saints for all time! That’s the invisible eternal reality!

When God’s people meet together, we meet the future. We get a taste of the future. We experience it. We join it. We get to see what our God is ultimately doing. It’s like receiving the down payment on God’s guarantee.

Church is a communal event. It’s spiritual communion with the Lord through which the divine community engages the redeemed community, where we delight in each other and we witness together to the not-always-seen realities of God’s Kingdom.

Sunday morning worship is Psalm 50 where God says, “Gather to me my consecrated ones.” It’s Leviticus 9 where the entire assembly comes near and stands before the Lord and his glory appears to them all. It’s Jesus saying, “How I long to gather you together.” It’s Ephesians 1 where the Bible says God’s ultimate will is to bring all things in heaven and earth together in Christ.

So what if May 31, or whenever your church gets back together, and the weeks after that are like just sticking your finger in a four-year-old jar of sand. It’s a taste. It’s a glimpse. It’s still a real, physical participation in a glorious, eternal reality with God and each other.

God has been obviously at work during the weirdness of doing church online. You think he might have something special planned for us in the weirdness of May 31?

Let us draw near to God and find out.

Peace,

Allan

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