Thursday, 20 May 2021 12:46
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1)Written by Jeron Parkins
We’re studying the book of Daniel on Sunday mornings. Daniel came to Babylon as a captive, having been forcibly removed from his family and from Jerusalem as a teenager. Like many thousands of others who were exiled to Babylon, I imagine Daniel wept over what had happened. We see him standing strong in the accounts written in the book, a true person of faith, but how long did he grieve over all the people killed and enslaved by the Babylonians? How long was he depressed over what had happened to his nation?
I think it is easy for us to look back over the last fifteen months and forget how hard it’s been and to overlook all the pain its caused. We’ve all suffered loss on one level or another. Job losses, family separations, forced transitions, businesses closed, trips canceled, celebrations denied, sports ended, funerals delayed, weddings rescheduled, strained relationships, broken relationships, sickness, death, stress and frustration. The list goes on and on. So much to mourn over! So much to weep about!
In talking to various pastors recently, I’ve realized that there hasn’t been a church or a congregation that hasn’t been effected negatively. I don’t know of one church in the San Luis Valley that is better off today than it was in January or February of 2020. One pastoral friend in Denver saw 15 families leave the church he serves (which is about half the size of Living Water) because they didn’t agree with the leadership’s Covid response (which was to wear masks and limit attendance). Another pastor’s church is just now starting to meet in person (an elderly congregation) and he said that some of the connections that were once so strong have been weakened, strained or broken simply because of lack of meeting. Other churches have suffered lots of loss because of the presidential election and national politics, or political memes on social media caused people to feel threatened, or because they chose to keep meeting or not enforce masks. It seems that no matter which tact churches have taken over the last 15 months or what direction the various Leadership or Elder Boards chose, pain ensued. There has been a great shaking in our society and the churches are still being sifted and sorted.
If you’ve been feeling a heaviness, anger or a sense of loss, it’s probably because you have lost or have had something taken, and it hurts. It’s ok to feel sadness or frustration because what we’ve been through wasn’t good! For instance, I’ve felt sorrow lately over people who are no longer part of our church. I’m big on harmony and unity and can’t stand it when differences divide, especially those that I thought could have been overcome. Our church hasn’t had it nearly as hard as a lot of churches or organizations (which I’m so grateful for!). But, it’s still hard. I worry about those who are alone. I worry about those who have gotten into the habit of not making Christian relationships a priority. I worry about those who departed or who have not returned to our Fellowship (Where will they go? Who are they meeting with? How are they standing against temptation without accountability and support?).
But you know what? I notice the more I talk about hard things with others and especially the more I talk it over with the Lord, the better I feel and the clearer my perspective gets. When we keep things inside or we stew on things, we can start to see the world from a skewed or an overly negative perspective. Have you mourned your losses? Have you taken the time to grieve? Have you let the tears flow? Maybe you need to write it out in a journal or just go for a long walk and talk with the Lord. Maybe you would feel a lot better if you met with the pastor and expressed frustration or maybe it’s time to forgive someone who hurt you. Hopefully now is a time to heal for a lot of people and a time to renew our hope and purpose.
The reality is that God is still on the throne, the Spirit is in our midst, and Jesus is still building his church! The truth is that we have a great faith family and ministry is still happening! The reality is that lives are being changed and that we have a lot of people whom the Lord is calling us to love and serve in the years ahead. We can’t change the past and we can’t control people and their choices. But when I look at the 100 or so little kids who were with us at Easter and I look at all the families and all the generations who are worshiping the Lord, I see a great church rising up in the future, worshiping the Lord with all we are, loving one another deeply, and witnessing to Christ intentionally. In the midst of our mourning let’s not lose sight of God’s purposes and plans to use us and make us a healthy and impactful church in the days to come.
To those who were weeping by the rivers of Babylon, who were mourning over what had happened and who likely had lost perspective, God’s “weeping prophet” gave a message of hope for the future and a call to start again:
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. . . .”This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:4-7,10-14).
Hopefully you are in a good place today. Hopefully you are engaged with other believers and being the church. If not, as we move into summer, let’s seek healing and restoration. Remember, Jesus has called us to be his church! Let’s seek to rekindle relationships and commitments that are so important. Let’s use this summer to get our lives back in order with the Lord and with our church family. Jesus has called us to go out, together, in his name! Let’s set the table for a great season of ministry, outreach, and worship in the Fall.
Summer is almost here! Lots of transitions ongoing! MOPS had their last meeting yesterday for the summer (Thank you MOPS steering team for another good year of seeking to build moms and families in Christ!). Here’s some of what’s happening at Living Water in the near future…
WORSHIP SERVICE UPDATE
- For the time being we’ll continue to receive offerings in the boxes in the foyer rather than pass the offering plate (you can also drop it off in the church mailbox on the street, or send it to 2910 Clark Street or use our text to give app).
- Also for the near future we’ll continue to ask you to receive communion at the tables rather than pass communion plates. We realize that sometimes it’s difficult for some to move to the tables and sometimes the double stacked cups stick together – if you need assistance ask one of the Deacons on duty.
- Worship service times continue at 9:00 and 10:45 A.M. We are studying the possibility of having new worship service times in the Fall, in connection with the opening off the Christian Ed building and expanded adult classes.
LATIN NIGHT This Friday, May 21
NO CHILDREN’S MINISTRY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, SUNDAY, MAY 30
BRINGING LIFE PROJECT UPDATE
We’re seeing a lot of parking lot work lately, and the last few days preparations have begun to extend our playground. Super excited to get asphalt! Church, we need to pray for the contractor that was hired to install our Heating and Ventilation systems – the company is really behind and doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to catch up – please pray for wisdom for our general contractor to know what tact to take.
REFER a FRIEND to EAGLE LAKE CAMP
Kids and parents we need your help in getting kids to camp! Please watch this video highlighting the Refer a Friend Program for Eagle Lake: https://youtu.be/3KZUwdRjiLc
POPCORN and A MOVIE MAY 28;
The Quizzing kids are having a bake sale at the same time to help them go to the World Quiz Meet in Washington State!
FAMILY FIELD DAY, JUNE 19th
The Family Team is planning a picnic in the park with a BBQ. There will be all kinds of games, 3-legged race, ultimate frisbee, potato sack race, volleyball, tug of war, balloon walk etc.
REIGN YOUTH GROUP RALLY FOR CHRIST JUNE 18-19
REIGN YOUTH GROUP MISSION WEEK JULY 10-15
CHANGE OF VBS DATES
We have decided to change the dates for VBS this year to August 9-13. Our VBS Director, Brenna Rivale, explains the reasons for the change in this note: Our date changes are due to the Guatemala trip being that same week, as well as Worlds for Quizzing is the week before. I am wanting to make it accessible to everyone, as well as most of my help/volunteers are going to be in Guatemala and I am wanting them to have the opportunity to serve for VBS. This year's VBS theme is “Destination Dig; Unearthing the Truth About Jesus.” Here’s an overview: Kids will unearth more than dirt as they dig up exciting evidence that proves biblical events were not just stories. As junior archaeologists, kids will explore real-life archaeological finds that have helped to uncover the truth about Jesus! Along the way, they’ll discover the truth of Jeremiah 29:13, that God reveals Himself to us when we seek and search for Him with all our hearts.
GLOBAL LEADERSHIP SUMMMIT August 5-6
We’ve hosted the Global Leadership Summit for several years now. Most of those registering have been from the local businesses or city and county employees. It’s been nice to serve our local community by hosting this uplifting and encouraging leadership conference at Living Water. If you want to participate the cost is $99 until July 13th. Click on the following link and when prompted insert this code 21SVTEAM https://register.globalleadership.org/#/reg/trans/one?invtID=EV-LSS2108-MAIN-SVA00028&orgCustomerID=704772&priorityCD=21SVTEAM
Thanks for serving the Lord!