Love Your Neighbor

Dear CBC Family,

This week I just want to repeat some important items to make sure we are all on the same page. Please read carefully.

Our service schedule is as follows: Christmas Eve, December 24th at 5:00 PM. There will not be a Christmas Day service (Saturday, December 25th). There WILL BE a Sunday, December 26th service at 10:00 AM. There also will not be a Saturday night service on New Year’s Day (Saturday, January 1, 2022) but we WILL have service on Sunday, January 2nd at 10:00 AM. The following week (January 8th & 9th) we will go back to our usual Saturday evening service at 5:00 PM and Sunday morning at 10:00 AM.

All 2021 giving must be received at the church by Sunday, December 26th in order to be credited on your 2021 giving statement. If you would like to give online the date is extended to December 29th. The reason for this is because only the authorized church members can make the deposit, and that is only done once a week right after the Sunday service. The staff does not, and cannot, handle the offerings or make deposits in cash to the church account.

The church office will be closed from December 27th to January 2nd. I will be around but the office is technically closed but if you need us we are available.

Lastly, many have been asking about masks as the governor reinstated the mask policy for all people in public regardless of vaccination status. I am expecting an email this afternoon regarding how that applies to the church. I know this is a heated topic for some people so we need to be biblical, and not emotional. Some churches have ignored the mandates from the beginning and stated things like; “we won’t have the government telling us what to do.” They also say; “we offer livestreaming so immunocompromised people can safely watch from home.” The irony here is that if the livestream was truly equal to meeting in person, there would be no issue with asking their church to continue to forgo any in-person gatherings until it was safe for everyone to attend, including those at higher risk. The fact that churches are pushing to keep and expand live services suggests they’re aware livestreaming doesn’t offer the same benefits or foster the same sense of community. I agree with that 100%. Livestreaming does not replace nor really equate to being in the church family personally. That said, refusing to follow mandates is choosing to exclude immunocompromised people and families with unvaccinated people from full inclusion in the body of Christ. Will we forget, or worse, knowingly push aside the weaker brothers and sisters to center on the preferences of the privileged? Can anyone do that biblically?

Perhaps a parable here would be helpful. In the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18), Jesus illustrates the importance of decentering the majority to focus wholly on the one with greater needs. I imagine that for the other 99 sheep, it might feel unfair to have their own preferences and desires put on hold, while the shepherd chases after the one who is missing. I know that for many people in churches, it feels like they have already spent more than an entire year making sacrifices for the sake of the vulnerable, and they feel they deserve to have their own preferences matter again.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence then that only six verses after the parable of the lost sheep, we find Peter asking Jesus how many times we should forgive someone. “Should I forgive as many as seven times?” Peter asks (Matthew 18:21). Jesus replies, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.” I imagine Jesus would respond similarly to those who ask, “But we’ve been doing this off and on for almost two years already, isn’t that long enough?” I think Jesus would say, “Not just one year, but rather as many as seventy-seven years.” However long it takes for an unmasked church to be safe for even our most vulnerable members, that’s how long we should be willing to mask for them. That is considering others as more important and living a life of mercy.

This weekend we will be looking at the life of worship from Romans 12:1. Mask or mask-less is irrelevant for me. I want to spend time with all of the family.

Blessings to you all,

Pastor Scott