Today is June 19th. It is a day that commemorates and celebrates the actualized freedom of slaves in Texas on this day in 1865. It was more than two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation! Our country's history with slavery is a sad one.
Can you imagine the joy and excitement of being able to make your own decision about what to do or where to go for the very first time? No wonder there was so much celebration surrounding this day. Similarly, when we place our faith in Christ Jesus for salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, He immediately shatters the shackles that enslaved us to sin and rebellion against God. For the first time, we become free to love God, honor God, and obey God. What an exciting and joyous realization that event was for us who have trusted in Christ!
Our nation has come a long ways in fair treatment for all, and we still have a ways to go. Would you pray that God would move throughout our nation to draw people to Himself? Apart from God's supernatural work, hatred and bitterness will continue to thrive (no matter what laws are in place). Hatred and bitterness is an enemy of all people of all ethnicities, and should not be found in Christians. May God be honored by the words and actions of His people as we participate in the unfolding of these tense times. May many experience freedom in Christ for the first time as a direct result of this very season!
The words of James seem incredibly relevant to the moment (and all the time): "My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God's righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word which is able to save your souls." - James 1:19-21 (CSB)
Although we cannot meet for what looks like a least a few more weeks due to COVID-19, we are excited to have in-home worship services available to you on Sunday mornings. We highly encourage you to go to the website vccburlington.org on Sunday mornings and scroll down just a little bit until you see the words "Worship With Us" and what you will find there is an order of service similar to what we have been going through together on Sunday mornings. This will be ready for you early Sunday morning.
This is what you will see (we encourage you to go through this in its order):
- An opening prayer to reflect on and pray through.
- You will then see three links to songs to hear and sing along with.
- Next, you will see a Scripture reading from the Old Testament since the sermon text is in the new.
- Following that text of Scripture, you will see two more links to songs to hear and sing along with.
- After that will be the sermon player. Click on the button that looks like a "play" button to hear the sermon from the book of Colossians.
- After you listen to the message you will see one more link to a song to hear and sing along with.
- And finally, you will see the benediction to read and be encouraged by.
Our hope is that we can all continue looking to the Lord seeking to be fed by His Word together even if we cannot come together physically. This is also one of the ways that we can stay connected. Coming together for corporate worship may be the most beautiful aspect of what it means to be the church. In the book of Acts, the author Luke desired to show us the beauty of the early church by making every effort to tell his readers that the people of the early church were coming together daily for worship and fellowship (Acts 2:44-47). Since we cannot come together to do this on Sunday mornings for now, worshiping this way in our homes on Sunday mornings is one way that we can continue to worship together as Valley Community Church.
"See" you Sunday!
"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6
The Pastors of VCC
(feel free to comment)
As you all probably know by now, Valley Community Church will not be meeting for at least two weeks. Our governing authorities have mandated that groups of our size not meet so that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be contained. We the pastors of VCC wanted to email you and encourage you in the Lord as well as inform you in what the church will be doing going forward.
Although Hebrews 10:23-25 reminds us of the beauty of meeting together as well as commanding that we do meet together as Christians, we feel as though temporarily suspending our gatherings is in no way opposing or neglecting this commandment from God. We feel the need to avoid carelessness. We do not want to be unwise in the stewardship of our own lives or fail to love our neighbors by putting them at unnecessary risk if we were to continue to meet even in smaller groups. Rather, as good neighbors, we want to do our part in mitigating against the spread of this disease in our community. And as your pastors, we feel a special stewardship in protecting the members of the church as shepherds. We love you, and we want you to be safe.
We may not be able to congregate together physically at this time, but this will not stop us from connecting with each other regularly, nor will it prevent us from worshiping together on Sunday mornings.
For the next two weeks and as long as needed we will have an order of service on the website ready for you on Sunday mornings. Our hope in this is that we will be worshiping with each other from our homes. As you go to the home page on Sunday morning, here is what you will find as an order of service:
-Written prayer for you to reflect upon
-Scripture reading that relates to the text of the sermon
-Songs with links for you to sing. We encourage you to click on the links and listen and sing along with the words on the screen.
-A sermon from our continued journey in the book of Colossians.
We strongly encourage you to be ready for corporate worship on Sunday mornings and for us all to log on and go to the website and partake in worship through prayer, Scripture reading, song, and a message from God's Word.
What you can do!
I. We encourage you to not let our current physical distance from one another hinder our privilege and responsibility to love one another in Christ. Pray for one another diligently. Pray for those who have been affected by this virus. Pray for our medical workers and hospital staff. Pray for our governing authorities. Pray that this would provide many gospel opportunities with those around you and around the world. Pray that our country and our world would turn to Jesus for hope and that thousands, if not millions would respond to the gospel message in repentance and faith.
II. Reach out to your fellow church members. Call each other regularly and encourage one another in the Lord. It can be very easy to be consumed by fear and anxiety as we are bombarded with news feeds and opinion columns. This is a very real threat and dangerous virus, but it is no surprise to our Lord and it is under His sovereign hand. Remind one another of the beauty and truth of the gospel and eternal life. Comfort each other with the Word of God and the truth of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
III. Reach out to your neighbors and other people in your life. Be ready in this season to give an account for the hope that you have. Proclaim to them through your message and your life the hope that you have even in the face of a global pandemic. Show them and tell them that there is nothing to fear if you have Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
What a joy to know that even though a pandemic is engulfing almost the whole earth, we have a God who is a rock and a refuge no matter what comes!
Listen to what the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 62. "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength and my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:5-8
God is your refuge dear Christian! Never waver from the hope of the gospel! Praise the Lord that He has already gained the victory over sin, disease, sickness, and even death. Praise God that we do not have to live in fear of what the next moment holds, because our great and mighty God holds eternity in the palm of His hand.
Please know that your pastors are praying for you and will be contacting you regularly to check in. We again encourage you to reach out at any time if there is anything you need whether that is prayer, food, or just to simply communicate what the Lord has been doing in your life.
The Pastors of VCC
Greetings dear saints of the Lord,
To start with we want to acknowledge that many in our communities and our state are nervous and scared about the potential effects of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. As Christians we have a unique privilege and role in this time in our lives to encourage and proclaim the gospel, the message of hope, to many who have no hope in the face of what is being called a pandemic. Remember dear Christian that Jesus is on the throne and that there is not one molecule nor virus that can live or move without His authority. We encourage you to not let the minute by minute news feeds distract you from the hope of the gospel. The fear that we have all seen in the recent days and weeks cannot characterize the one who has placed their faith and trust in the Lord. We have an obligation to be the voice of reason and the voice of hope.
As Psalm 91 reminds us "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust! For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark."
Only the Christian has hope in the midst of despair. Let us as a church see this as a unique opportunity to share the beauty of Christ and our eternal hope to people who have no hope. Let us hold fast to our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ no matter what comes our way.
That being said, in light of the local outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) we wanted to reach out and make you all aware of some steps that we will be taking as leaders of the church. First and foremost, at this time we will continue to meet at 10:30am on Sunday mornings for our worship service. We feel that the priority of gathering together as the church should continue to play a vital part in all of our lives. We encourage you to plan to be here on Sunday mornings at this time.
When you come on Sunday mornings, please refrain from shaking hands, hugging, or any close personal contact as advised by our health care professionals.
Although we will continue to meet on Sunday mornings for our normal 10:30am worship service, we are going to temporarily postpone all other meetings held by the church.
- 9:30am Sunday morning Bible Classes
- The Saturday morning men's group
- The Tuesday morning women's group
- All Life Groups
Again, we will continue to meet for our Sunday worship service at 10:30am, but all other church functions will be temporarily postponed.
In preparation for our Sunday morning gatherings we will be giving extra attention to sanitizing the church, particularly commonly used handles and fixtures, to help reduce the spread of any potential illness that may come.
Reasons to not attend:
If you have any symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, or any flu like symptoms we ask that you remain home. If you are sick or choose to remain home, please reach out to the leaders of the church so that we can pray for you and make sure that your needs are attended to.
If you are someone who is immune compromised, we encourage you to seek out the Lord for guidance and to speak to your doctor about whether or not you should attend services. If you choose to abstain from coming on Sunday mornings for a period of time due to the virus, we fully honor and respect that decision and ask that you would keep us informed so that we continue to minister to you.
If you choose to not attend for a period of time, please remember sermons will be available online at vccburlington.org (to stay connected). Please continue your financial support of the church through this time. Your regular offering can be made through your personal online banking, online giving, or simply sending a check to the church. We want to continue supporting the work of the gospel through our church, our pastors, and our missionaries throughout the world.
Let us as a church truly rest in what the Lord has promised us. The apostle Paul gives us these words precisely for a time such as this. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Your brothers in Christ,
The pastors of VCC