From the Desk of Mark
Greetings from Mark and the Jones family! March 29th makes three Sundays that we have been unable to assemble at the building due to concerns of spreading COVID-19. My quarantine so far has been filled with the flu. In all actuality, if services had not been cancelled, I would have needed three weeks of substitute preachers! A lot of work has gone into streaming sermons for Bridgeport, so I am the weak link at this time.
I pray you all are well and are able to acquire what you need. There is a space on the church website for any needs of members. Please take advantage of this feature. I will be working from home and can be reached by cell, facebook, or email email@example.com.
Over the past two thousand years the church has endured persecutions, war, famine, and separation. The past two weeks has given us an insight as to how the church continues its work and worship during difficult times. Our time apart is due to a more noble cause of trying to end the spread of a highly contagious illness. The lessons we are learning, however, certainly give us perspectives on the realities of worship and service for so many persecuted and deprived Christians the world over.
I want to think about our worship at home. While we are apart, let us not forsake assembling (Hebrews 19:25) to worship God in our homes. “Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” -Psalm 29:2
This article looks at the five acts of worship (preaching/teaching, singing, praying, communion, and giving) and how to accomplish them at home. Streaming worship services of congregations still meeting is an excellent way to engage in worship to God. Bridgeport is currently offering children’s bible study in an online format Sunday at 10 AM.
Preaching and teaching the word of God provides spiritual food for the soul. Family bible studies and home worship services are such precious ways to strengthen your spirit. Many preachers are delivering lessons online either live or achieved. Polishing the Pulpit has made available its entire archive during this time. GBN and In Search of the Lord’s Way are also good resources for lessons if you do not want to lead your own. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Singing connects us to one another and to God in an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual way. To paraphrase Ephesians 5:19, we are told to sing from the heart. We are also told in Ephesians 5:18 to be “filled with the Spirit” as we sing. Colossians 3:16 tells us we are to teach with the richness of the knowledge of Christ when we sing. Since we are speaking to one another (Ephesians 5:19) we are engaging in a very necessary social activity during this time of separation that will lift us up.
Prayer engages the fullness of the Godhead and the sincerity of our hearts. We pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9), through the Son (John 14:14), with the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). I cannot think of a more beneficial practice than prayer when you feel isolated and alone. God is loving enough to listen, gentile enough to care, powerful enough to answer, and wise enough to supply exactly what we need when we need it.
Communion is just that, communion with God. How’s that for connectivity! When we remember the broken body and shed blood of Jesus for the remission of our sins, we gain perspective on the fact that nothing is going to happen to us in this life that will separate us from God. Paul writes, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Take comfort in communion that God is with you and will never forsake you. Likewise, let us never forsake God.
If you need communion supplies, please let us know. If you want to make your own but do not have a recipe, here is a simple recipe I have seen circulating online and have made at home:
1 cup AP Flour
1/3 cup Oil
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine flour, oil, and salt.
Add water and cut in until dough is soft.
Form six dough balls and press flat on prepared baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 8:7 tells us to abound in “this grace also,” contribution. While we are not assembling together, it seems impossible to adhere to giving as an act of worship. Notice the commandment concerning Lord’s Day contribution; “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:2) Note the emphasis upon the individual Christian to lay aside and store up. Obviously the church has financial commitments that must be kept; however, the Christian must keep his commitment to God of storing up contribution each week as he has been prospered and bringing that store to the church when regular assembling resumes.
As we worship apart from each other, let us take heart in that we are united in spirit and truth. “For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” (Colossians 2:5) God bless you during this time and may our days apart be swift and our reunion be filled with rejoicing.