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April  2020

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The deadline for the May Issue is April 19.  Please send articles to the church office or to Brother Lee.

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Owing to the current restrictions in effect to slow the spread of the Corona virus, all church activities are suspended, including Sunday worship service and meetings.  Please keep up with the current restrictions in effect and take care to adhere to them.

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  Bread Cup
Apr.  5 Steve Bowman Larry Brown
Apr. 12 Joe Jones Peggy Myers
Apr. 19 Lonnie Jackson Steve Bowman
Apr. 26 Larry Brown Peggy Myers

Devotional:  Steve Bowman
Home Communion Visitation:  Steve Bowman, Lonnie Jackson, and Joe Jones

Serving Communion:  Beverly Bowman and Doug Henry
Communion Prep and Clean-Up:  Jenny Brown


Apr.  5 Pam Proffitt
Apr. 12 Larry Brown
Apr. 19 Lonnie Jackson
Apr. 26 Betty Nevius

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Here is the script for our worship service of March 22.  It is available as a video on the Arlington Christian Church Facebook page.  Bro. Lee

Good morning.  It feels different leading a worship service for a video camera.  Thank you for watching and worshiping.  I know life is been a lot different in the last week or so, and I hope we don’t have time to adjust before it gets back to a more normal condition.  Obviously our service is a little different today from what we are accustomed to.  But I hope it is a time that will be spiritually and physically rewarding for all of us.  We don’t have any music today, and our communion will be a little different this morning.  If you would like to share communion, you can use bread or crackers and water or juice.  One thing about watching a video worship service is you can pause and go prepare your communion elements anytime you would like to.

If you have attended any of the funerals I have preached, you may recognize a portion of my message today.  I try to reassure people that God is with us, especially in hard times, and that God gets us through those hard times.  I don’t think it is a stretch to say that we are probably all mourning today.  It may not be over the death of someone close to us.  But I think we are all mourning over the loss of any lives, and over the people who are sick, and for the ones who are frightened enough to almost be non-functional.  Plus I think we are all mourning the things we have lost.  We have lost companionship.  We have lost freedom.  We have lost the sense of safety and security.

As we worship today, let us find ourselves closer to God.  Let us find strength and courage from Christ, who went to the cross for us.  Let us find comfort and peace in the Holy Spirit who is always present in our lives.  And let us find the love that God has for us regardless of where our lives are at the moment.

Call to Worship Psalm 100

Earth, sing to the Lord!
Be happy as you serve the Lord!  Come before him with happy songs!
Know that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we belong to him.  We are his people, the sheep he takes care of.
Come through the gates to his Temple, giving thanks to him.  Enter his courtyards with songs of praise.  Honor him and bless his name.
The Lord is good!  There is no end to his faithful love.  We can trust him forever and ever!

I have been starting most of the funerals I preach with this Psalm.  It may seem like a stretch to talk about being happy or being full of joy when you are filled with sadness over a loved one's death.  It may also seem unusual to talk about it when you are stressed out with fear over a virus.  But that is when we need to remember that God made us and we are God’s loved children.  God has promised to protect us beyond our earthly lives.

When the world throws something like a new virus at us, we have the strength of God to get us through the challenges we face.  I am glad to be here this morning, and I am glad to be with you who are watching this video.  We are living in times that can bring fear - mostly fear of the unknown - to the bravest of people.  It isn’t a sign of weakness to be afraid of what we are unsure of.  God gave us the gift of fear to keep us alive when real danger is around.  Fear can save us, but it can also harm us.

It is no wonder that things that go bump in the night are more scary to us than things that go bump in the day.  When we cannot identify and measure the danger, it becomes more fearsome.  I would say that right now, we are mostly ignorant about this virus.

We are told so many conflicting things we can’t possibly know which to believe, so we tend to either dismiss all of it or we latch on to the worst of it.  I think that may be the way a lot of God's people felt thousands of years ago when his prophets delivered their messages.  You see, there were a lot of false prophets back in those days giving conflicting messages to God’s people.  And just like today, it was very difficult for them to know the real from the false.  It wasn't until Jesus came as our Savior that we had God's Holy Word directly from God.  Let that word comfort us today.

Prayer of Invocation:  Let us pray.  God, we gather here in your name, not knowing what to think about the changes in the world and in our lives.  We come here knowing that you are a constant.  You are always with us.  You always have unconditional love for us.  You always have the ability to forgive us when we disappoint you.  As we hear your word, let it reassure us that we can count on you to get us through these times.  We pray for all those who are not in worship today.  Watch over them as you watch over us.  Be with those who are sick and especially with those who are caring for them and with those who love them.  We pray in the name of your son, Amen.

I want to read a another Psalm this morning.  It’s one that I know you are familiar with although it may sound a little different.  This is the Easy-to-Read Version translation.  Throughout his life, David had found himself in periods of peace and prosperity and also in periods of trials and tribulations.  This Psalm celebrates God being in his life through all of these times. The 23rd Psalm.

Scripture reading:  Psalm 23 (ERV)
1 The Lord is my shepherd.
  I will always have everything I need. 2 He gives me green pastures to lie in.
  He leads me by calm pools of water.
3 He restores my strength.
  He leads me on right paths to show that he is good.
4 Even if I walk through a valley as dark as the grave,
  I will not be afraid of any danger, because you are with me.
  Your rod and staff comfort me.
5 You prepared a meal for me in front of my enemies.
  You welcomed me as an honored guest.
  My cup is full and spilling over.
6 Your goodness and mercy will be with me all my life,
  and I will live in the Lord’s house a long, long time.

When you look at the lives of a lot of the people in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, it’s a little difficult for us to relate to their experiences.  Times are so much different, lifestyles are so much different, technology was so much different.  But when you realize that they had ups and downs that were different than ours, but at the same time they were very similar to ours, it’s not as difficult to learn from them.

King David had a life filled with ups and downs.  We meet him as he was being selected to become the second king of Israel.  He was just a young shepherd boy when Samuel anointed him King.  And he went back to being a young shepherd boy.  Then we find him again with the giant Goliath, and he becomes an instant hero.  God was taking care of him during these good times.  And David celebrates that in the first part of Psalm 23.

God gave him everything he needed.  God gave him peace and comfort.  And when he needed it, God gave him strength.  But David also had some bad times of life.  A lot of it was self-inflicted.  He turned against the will of God and saw his people being punished.  He turned against the will of God and had a son die.  Later in life he had a son who tried to kill him and take over as King.  These are the times he was in the valley that was as dark as a grave.  And yet he knew that God was still there watching over him and getting him through that valley.  You see, God did not keep him from being in that dark valley, but God did make sure that he made it through the valley.  And then David celebrated the bounty of God at the end of the Psalm.

Is that a lot different from our lives today?  We have times where everything seems to be going our way.  Sometimes we sort of take those good times for granted.  Sometimes we forget to praise God for giving us those good times.  And I think it’s just as important cry out to God with thanks and praise when everything seems to be going well for us as it is crying out to God for mercy and help when things have turned bad for us.

I think a good part of the world is in that dark valley right now, at least the parts of the world that have access to the kind of news we have access to.  And I think the greatest part of the darkness comes from the uncertainty.  I was standing in the checkout line at Meijers a couple days ago and one of the rags had a headline that read, "CDC models say 150 to 200 million Americans will get coronavirus and 15 million will die."  And I say that is irresponsible and almost criminal, even if it is a supermarket rag.  When you see a headline like that, it makes it very difficult to remember the part of the Psalm where David said, "I will not be afraid of any danger because you are with me."

God was with the people of Israel when they were wandering through the desert.  God was with the people of Israel when they were captives in Babylon.  And God was with the people of Israel when he sent his son to save us from ourselves.

I don’t want us to forget that we are in Lent.  We have been reading from the Gospel of John, and today I’m going to read portions of the story in John, chapter 9.

John 9, Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
 1 While Jesus was walking, he saw a man who had been blind since the time he was born.  2 Jesus’ followers asked him, "Teacher, why was this man born blind?  Whose sin made it happen?  Was it his own sin or that of his parents?"
 3 Jesus answered, "It was not any sin of this man or his parents that caused him to be blind.  He was born blind so that he could be used to show what great things God can do.  4 While it is daytime, we must continue doing the work of the one who sent me.  The night is coming, and no one can work at night.  5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
 6 After Jesus said this, he spit on the dirt, made some mud, and put it on the man’s eyes.  7 Jesus told him, "Go and wash in Siloam pool."  (Siloam means "Sent.") So the man went to the pool, washed, and came back.  He was now able to see.
17 They asked the man again, "Since it was your eyes he healed, what do you say about him?"
He answered, "He is a prophet."
24 So the Jewish leaders called the man who had been blind.   They told him to come in again.  They said, "You should honor God by telling the truth.  We know that this man is a sinner."
25 The man answered, "I don’t know if he is a sinner.  But I do know this:  I was blind, and now I can see." 34 The Jewish leaders answered, "You were born full of sin!  Are you trying to teach us?"  And they told the man to get out of the synagogue and to stay out.
35 When Jesus heard that they had forced the man to leave, he found him and asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
36 The man said, "Tell me who he is, sir, so I can believe in him."
37 Jesus said to him, "You have already seen him.  The Son of Man is the one talking with you now."
38 The man answered, "Yes, I believe, Lord!  Then he bowed and worshiped Jesus.
39 Jesus said, "I came into this world so that the world could be judged.  I came so that people who are blind could see.  And I came so that people who think they see would become blind."
40 Some of the Pharisees were near Jesus.  They heard him say this.  They asked, "What?  Are you saying that we are blind too?"
41 Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would not be guilty of sin.  But you say that you see, so you are still guilty."

On the surface this story seems to be about illness and healing and sin.  Right now the coronavirus is ravaging the world, and I think we need to look at the beginning of the story where Jesus rejects the idea that illness is a punishment for sin.  Whenever tragedies happen, there are certain lines of belief that automatically start listing the sins of the world, that God is punishing us for, with whatever the tragedy is.

The followers who had been with Jesus were the ones that asked the question, "Was his blindness caused by his sin or his parent’s sin?"  That question is understandable because in Exodus 20:5, God says that he will punish those who hate him to the third or fourth generation.  But Jesus immediately corrects the followers and says that his blindness doesn't have anything to do with sin.  It is an opportunity for God's works to be shown to the world.

Now the immediate work appears to be the restoration of the man's sight, and that is definitely what the religious authorities focused on.  But Jesus does a lot more than that.  Jesus takes some spit and some dirt, which reminds us of God's creative work in Genesis 2.  Then Jesus tells the man to go wash himself in the pool of Siloam, which means "sent" and that should remind us of baptism where we are commissioned to be "sent" out into the world to spread God’s word.

What Jesus is essentially doing is healing a person of his earthly ills and at the same time recruiting a new follower.  And to make matters worse as far as the religious leaders were concerned, this man came from the excluded part of society, the ones they considered disinherited from the faith.  This is another of the events where Jesus angers the powers of the Jewish faith and turns the world upside down.

As we suffer from our blindness right now, unable to see beyond the growing number of virus cases, unable to see beyond the falling stock market, unable to see beyond the closed restaurants and businesses and churches, we need to remember that Christ is there to open our eyes so that we can see the light of the world that is in him and that we will overcome the hardships that we are living through right now.

Our faith in Christ enables us to see beyond this dark Valley that we are in at the moment.  It enables us to see the light of the world that is the son of God, the Savior of the world.

Current events may seem to bring us very close to Good Friday in our own lives - a time of suffering, but we have to remember that Good Friday was followed by Easter.

Don't let the troubles of the world blind you from the light of God.


(Silent Prayer)
Prayer:  Wonderful God, we come to you today asking for your love to be felt throughout the entire world.  We know that you are always with us and that you plan the best for us.  We confess that we often take your plans and change them to fit our wants and desires.  And when we change them, we don’t get the full benefit that you wanted us to have.

We ask you to bring healing to the people who are suffering from any kind of illness or injury.  We ask you to heal not only their bodies, but also their spirits.  Let them find strength in you.  Let them find courage in you.  Let them find peace in you.

God be with us in the coming days when it may seem like darkness is surrounding us.  Help us to remember, and to reach out to, the light that shines through all darkness, the light of your Son.

We pray these things through your Son.  Amen.

Benediction:  Go in peace.  See the miracle of the resurrection and of a renewal of life - God’s gift to you.  May God love you, may Christ guide you, and may the Holy Spirit be with you, until you return to this Holy place.  Amen

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