CONGREGATIONAL LETTER #17
July 2, 2020
Hello and good afternoon to my dear Bethesda Family and Friends!
“... I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – Jesus (John 11:25-26)
Over the last four months, we’ve been in a kind of strange COVID-19 exile from each other. Some of us have felt isolated and alone, missing our Bethesda Family and Friends. Some others of us may have felt like we’ve been on a bit of an extended vacation – of sorts – from getting everybody up and out to church, enjoying our live-stream/webcast in our jammies. Perhaps many of us have felt a little of both – a bit lonely and a bit relieved.
I think we’re sufficiently Biblically literate and Spiritually mature in our faith to know that one of the fundamental distinctives of historic-orthodox Christian faith and practice has been our regular, weekly gathering, together – in Jesus’s name by the Holy Spirit – to share in worship, fellowship, and ministry, physically together.
We see this pattern from the earliest days of The Church, on Sunday, the first day of the week, in recognition and honour of our Lord Jesus’s resurrection on Sunday, the first day of the week, which had become known as “the Lord’s Day” by the time the Holy Spirit moved John the Apostle to write the Book of Revelation.
This shift in congregational worship from ‘the Sabbath’ (Saturday) to the first day of the week (Sunday), and the establishment of the distinctive Christian practice of gathering regularly – even weekly – on “the Lord’s Day,” together, is quite clear:
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen and the other Mary came to look at the grave ...” – Matthew 28:1
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene , and Mary the mother of James and Salome, brought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb ... Now after [Jesus] had risen early on the first day of the week ...” – Mark 16:1-2, 9
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus ...” – Luke 24:1
“Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen came early to the tomb ...” – John 20:1”
“When the Day of Pentecost arrived (Sunday, the 50th day after Jesus’s Sunday Resurrection), they were all together in one place.” – Acts 2:1
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight ...” – Acts 20:7
“On the first day of every week, each one of you is to set aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” – 1 Corinthians 16:2
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.” – Revelation 1:10
It’s time for us to begin the migration back – to return from our exile – on Sunday mornings, the Lord’s Day! As we’ve mentioned previously, we in the leadership are taking this opportunity to ask the Lord Jesus in which ways He would have us to “reset” and “renew” our Bethesda Church life and ministry. We hope that you and your families will return soon and be a vital part of that conversation-in-community.
This Sunday, Pastor Yuri will build on his announcement concerning family ministry from last week. Attached, you will find a special bulletin for our children and youth. The idea is to engage them, specifically on Sunday mornings during our worship gathering and especially the sermon. As such, preachers will try to insert key touch points into our sermons that correlate to the kids’ bulletin to keep them engaged (hopefully). So, whether you’re still away or physically with us, we hope our families will find this new activity sheet and teaching aide both worthwhile and helpful.
And though we don’t want to entice anyone into a situation you’re not comfortable with and we also hope to continue our livestream after this season has passed for those who can’t be with us, physically on any given Sunday, we do encourage you and your family to join us again as soon as possible on Sundays. We are thankful for the technology that has enabled us to “stick together” during this time, as well as enabling us to continue giving faithfully and in faith to support our ministries. However, being “socially distanced” is clearly not what the Holy Spirit had in mind when He formed The Church in Jesus’s name.
Just as Jesus called Lazarus out of that tomb, and Lazarus arose and came out – a resuscitation, Jesus is also calling us, as Bethesda Church, to a sort of reset, a renewal, a resuscitation! We need to get up and get out, once again! We are now able to provide two locations – the upper auditorium and balcony (‘Sanctuary’) and the downstairs Fellowship Hall (where it’s about ten degrees cooler)! We are able to have fifty persons in each place, and we hope to fill them both up, soon. Folks, it’s time to make our way back; it’s “the Lord’s Day;” and, we hope to see you, soon!
Grace to you and yours, thanks, love, JOY! and peace!