March 21, 2021, one year later

Dear Church family, friends and community,

It was a year ago that because of COVID-19 and the government mandated lockdown, that  we began praying and singing as individuals and as families in our homes, using a “Home Worship Guide” supplemented by an audio sermon using . The weekly sermons of RRPC can still be found there, and the scripture one year ago on March 22 was Psalm 91 – “You Are Not Canceled”.   And you are still “not canceled”.  You are beloved in Christ Jesus.

God has carried us through a lot individually, as a church family, as a nation and as part of this vast world that has suffered and lost much through sickness, death and economic hardship for many.  We mourn the loss of life, the sheer human suffering of people dying alone in hospital rooms without the comfort of family, the sadness of snuffed out dreams and the lost months that people were counting on.  We also think of the difficulty of so-called “long-haul COVID-19” patients.  We mourn over these things.  Some of you have suffered loneliness, and lost opportunities for work and fellowship with extended families and friends.  Many hugs have not happened this year.  We bear sorrow in our heart for many.

As a church family, in our life together on Sunday mornings, God has brought us through zoom worship services, outdoor services in our cars and pick-ups using a radio broadcast to your car radio, outdoor services on lawn chairs and blankets (resuming the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper) and then we returned inside last summer.  We have had overflow space outside on the lawn under tents, and in the Log Chapel.  God has been faithful and we give Him the praise and the glory for bringing us this far by faith.  Thank you to you all for your patience, your kindness to one another, your practical help in music leadership, collecting offerings, cleaning the building, setting up tents, directing traffic, working with electronics, and even a church website upgrade facilitated by the pandemic change in work schedules.  You have faithfully worshiped in a sometimes chilly worship hall with windows open to provide ventilation helpful in preventing spread of COVID-19. You are a beautiful local expression of the Body of Christ that shows God’s grace to one another and to the community.  You have been generous in your giving of tithes and offerings, in the plate, through the mail, and through our website.  You have persevered in ministry to youth and in Sunday School and in personal ways, unnamed, but not unnoticed by God.  The elders are thankful for you all.

Next Sunday marks the 30th Anniversary of our first worship service as a congregation on Palm Sunday in 1991.  Praise God for His faithfulness!  He has tested and tried us in this past year, but his grace has been sufficient.  Paul writes, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

The next sermon series for Sunday morning is: There’s More in Christ

March 21 – More Beyond – 2 Cor. 5:1-8

March 28 – Evermore the King – 2 Cor. 5:9-10

April 4 – More to Life than This – 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

April 11 – More Motivated by Christ’s Love – 2 Cor. 5:11-15

In Christ, Pastor Ned Suffern