Image Source: River of Life Church, Elk River MN (https://www.rolmn.org/)
LRF Update 20-Mar-2020
Lewis River Fellowship will do our part to slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Woodland WA and greater Cowlitz County by suspending all in person church services and meetings until further notice. This decision is based on directives from local and federal health authorities as well as the Global Church of the Nazarene.
This does NOT mean that we are not “having church.” You may remember the children’s action poem where you make a church building with hands folded, pointers toward the sky, thumbs as doors and other fingers inside. The rhyme goes like this – “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people!” This implies the church is the building, but we all know in our heads this is not true. The building is simply the place where the church meets sometimes. The church is the finger-people inside!
This is going to be an opportunity for us to realize that the church is more than a building, more than services, more than meetings, more than programs. We are the living Body of Christ in this world. To this end, we will be organizing and communicating several ways to stay faithful and connected during this time. Some of us will be harder hit than others, so we want to check-in and help take care of each other. To our knowledge none of our congregation have contracted the virus, but we know some are suffering from job loss and other related issues. Please contact me or other church leaders if you have immediate needs.
You can keep updated on our website https://lewisriverfellowship.org, join our Lewis River Fellowship Facebook Messenger group or check out our Lewis River Fellowship Facebook page. We will also go old school and send USPS mailings, call each other on the phone and, as always, continue to pray for/with each other.
We are especially concerned about our most vulnerable members and have formed a group of people to reach out to our seniors for connection, support, prayer, help with groceries and meds, and other errands. Our children’s ministry is reaching out with resources for home devotions and activities and we will be arranging some livestream and podcast messages as the weeks go by.
Our goal on Easter is to have a virtual service and share communion together. We are mailing to your homes enough individual communion elements for your family. You will be invited to join as many as can as we take communion together by getting online or on the phone.
Stay tuned for updates. Spend time with family praying, reading, sharing and doing. Connect with each other and those around you. Meet your neighbors. Write some notes. Use this forced isolation during this Lenten season to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice and love for us. Look for God to show up in the disruption and the chaos and let Him renew and restore your soul.
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” John 13:34-35 CEB
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all,
Pastor Mike Morgan
Out of caution Lewis River Fellowship did not gather for worship on March 15. We are reviewing the guidance from federal and state agencies and also from the General and WAPAC District Church of the Nazarene to determine how best to balance our connection and ministry as a local church and at the same time respond in a responsible way to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We serve a mighty God who provides strength, calms fears and puts His peace in our hearts in times like this. Remember these words of Jesus as he shared the last meal with his disciples before going to the cross (John 14:26-28 CEB):
The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away and returning to you.’ If you loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me.
As we plan and notify you of next steps I want you to take advantage of this time to be together with your family, reach out to those who need help, and keep connected with those among us who must remain isolated. We will get through this together.
We have started a Lewis River Fellowship Facebook page and you can check the current blog on our https://lewisriverfellowsip.org website for more information. You can also submit prayer requests on the website.
We will send a mailing soon about all this, but we encourage you to connect through these media, if you are able. For those who do not have access to Facebook or Messenger or the website, we will connect in more personal ways.
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all.
Pastor Mike Morgan
To the thirsty I will freely give water from the life-giving spring. I will be their God, and they will be my sons and daughters. (Revelation 21:6 CEB)
The angel showed me the river of life-giving water, shining like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come! Let the one who wishes receive life-giving water as a gift.” The one who bears witness to these things says, “Yes, I’m coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:1, 17, 20 CEB)
Sometimes we make this church thing really complicated. In its simplest form, it is a cycle of call and response. God calls us to “come and drink” from life-giving water. We respond by either choosing to come to Jesus or choosing to go our own way. If we choose to come to him. We turn to him and respond, “come, Lord Jesus.”
Come and drink
Come, Lord Jesus
Come and drink
Come, Lord Jesus
This is the pattern of the Christ follower. This is the pattern of the people of God gathered as the church.
Everything else flows out of this pattern of call and response. This is the way we grow to become more like Christ. This is the way we receive grace and help in our times of need. This is the way the church participates in God’s mission for this world.
Come. . . What a simple invitation.
If you are thirsty, “Come.”
If you are hungry, “Come.”
If you are weary, “Come.”
If you are lonely, “Come.”
If you have lost your way, “Come.”
If you need a place to rest and recuperate, “Come.”
If you want real life, “Come.”
If you are tired of trying to be satisfied by things that don’t satisfy, “Come.”
After all our struggling, all our striving, all our chaos, all our pretenses, all our deception, and all our failure . . . we come to the place where we can say, “I need Jesus.”
That’s a great place to be, even if you had to hit bottom to get there. It is there we hear Jesus simply say, “Come.”
God came in the flesh and suffered and died for us. He rose from the grave to enable us to receive grace to become the people of God and to give us hope for a new creation where the new heaven and the new earth are one. That’s the extravagance of God toward us.
Maybe you’ve been denied love or have only experienced love with conditions. I have good news, that’s not the way God loves. Maybe you’ve always felt that nothing you ever did was right or the love and affection you needed was never offered. God invites us to himself and responds with love and grace. If you have come to him, then you understand what this extravagant grace is all about.
But it is not enough to just come to Jesus.
Imagine asking someone to meet you for coffee. You notice them pull up to the curb, but they stay in the car. They come, but they don’t drink. The point of your request to come is not that they be near you. The point is that they share coffee and relationship with you.
The last passage of the entire Christian scriptures reminds us that we are invited to come AND drink.
By drinking from the “water of life”. . .
we trade our guilt for forgiveness,
we trade our sorrow for joy, and
we trade death and decay for everlasting and abundant life.
This trade doesn’t happen by just coming. We must drink from the fountain of new life.
If we come to Jesus, but do not drink it is like staying in the car. We never experience the life-changing, life-giving relationship.
You know the thing about our physical bodies being thirsty? Even if we take a drink to satisfy our thirst, we are going to get thirsty again. One drink doesn’t hold you for very long.
A hike near Mt. St. Helens this past weekend reminded me of this. It was a bright sunny day (yes, we do have them in Washington state!), I was alone and, I made the mistake of leaving most of my water in the truck and only taking about 20 oz. with me. After walking on the ash and rock “trail” for a while I ran out of water from trying to quench my thirst.
It’s the same with our spiritual lives. Our spiritual lives need constant nourishment. We need to come again and again to drink from the life-giving water of Christ.
We do this with personal prayer and meditation on God’s Word. We do this by gathering with God’s people for worship. We do this by sharing the life of Christ through the regular sacrament of the bread and the cup. We do this by serving in the name of Christ.
Talking about living water reminds me of an encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan women at a well. She came for H2O from the well and left with living water from Jesus. Jesus offered her living water so she wouldn’t thirst again. He wasn’t saying she would never drink again. He was saying this living water never runs out and always satisfies. We can drink and drink and drink and it will never run dry.
I invite you to come and drink!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. (Revelation 22:21 CEB)