The Latest (I Think)...

Well! I'd like to keep you up to date but, for the life of me, I don't know what that means any more. Do you? And as I write this, it will change anyway. But here goes. Please read carefully because because there are a lot of changes here. God willing, they will be very temporary. We will have to cancel our in-person Sunday Worship time and other gatherings for the present. It grieves me deeply to do so, but I want to be a good steward of the Lord's protection upon our congregation and our entire community. I want to observe the President's call (and Mr. Pence's) to avoid gatherings of ten or more. As I write this, Orange County is just reporting its 22nd case of the virus and the County Board is discussing a ban "on all gatherings". It hasn't passed yet, but I'm sure it will; we will have to comply with it. So here is what we have come up with: Our Sunday morning and evening worship services will not take place in person. At 8:45, 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM they will be streamed on YouTube for you and your family and a small group of friends to worship at home. We hope and pray that will suffice for the time being. In fact, I hope it will be a time of growth and encouragement for you as you share the opportunity with close friends and family. You know? We're very close to starting a series on the wonderful Book of Acts, where the Gospel exploded around the world from people who had gathered in housechurches. We'll have our own experience as a backdrop. Here is another important option dear ones: I want you to know that this House of God will always be open to you. Our sanctuary has always been open 9-5 Monday through Friday, and that is not going to change. But now it will be open to you at anytime on Sundays from 9:00AM to 6:30 PM You are welcome to come at any time on Sunday to pray, worship and encourage a few others. This is the Lord's House, and if you belong to Him, it is your House too. Please use it! Be blessed when you do. No one is going to be turned away from the House of the Lord. We simply ask that you observe our President's—and the CDC's—guidelines by keeping each group to less than ten. There are four corners of our sanctuary, an entryway and other rooms that we can use. We will have an Elder, a Deacon or Deaconess present just to watch over our Sanctuary and keep it open if no one is present at the time. Now, we're closing up in the evening, just to keep our facility and equipment safe, but—you know?—if you are a member of our church, you can have a key and come anytime you want! I'm serious. Like I said: this is His House, and for you who are His, that makes it yours! Every Sunday, if it is used in this manner, our sanctuary will be stringently sanitized at 10 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Our beautiful FightNight will be effected the same way (like I said: I'm grievin'!). We will have to practice the same "open church" approach: there will be no dinner and no official gathering. Our Sunday and Wednesday children's programs are closed for the time being but will be available through digital Sunday School lessons. Last Sunday was so awesome! So many of you came and it was such a sweet time of worship. I went home so blessed, assuming that we could do that forever. My how things change! You know, back in 1918, when the socalled Spanish Influenza struck with such force, Americans everywhere were forced to endure the very same shutdowns and restrictions in a desperate effort to stem the contagion. Churches had to shut down then too. The virus raged for over a year, claiming 600,000 lives. Do you know what is happening in the wake of all this? Americans are learning: they are not in control. We are not the "masters of our fate"; we are not the "captains of our souls". We are also learning how utterly fragile and precarious is the sense of well-being we have enjoyed all these years. And may Americans, everywhere, learn one more thing from all this: to fall on our knees before God and repent of our personal and national sins. It is certainly time we did! Love you dear OT. RAS

The Top of the Trail
Hold on to That Key!