All ministries and programs are postponed or moved online until further notice.
The church office is currently closed to help encourage proper social distancing.
Phones: (508) 358-7717 is staffed M-F 9A-2:30P for any questions
The first thing we want to do as people of faith is to pray for the world and the needs of our community. If you have prayer concerns please send them to email@example.com. A link to a regularly updated prayer list will be emailed out to our Email Newsletter mailing list. (Signup here)
This is a great time for us as the church to literally love our neighbors. If you would like to join our list of helpers for odd jobs (grocery or food delivery, rides, childcare, etc.) you can signup here. After receiving your signup, we’ll be in touch with the specific need and safety procedures, which we are developing.Signup to Serve our Community
We anticipate our food pantry to see extra use over these next few weeks. If you are able please consider donating non-perishable and non-expired items. A list of needed items is forthcoming.
If you know someone who needs help, or if you yourself need help, please reach out to the office at 508-358-7717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those experiencing financial hardship during this pandemic it is our joy to invite you to apply for support via the Deacon’s Fund. This fund is not only used to serve real needs in the community directly, but it’s a resource that members of our TCC community could utilize to help meet the needs of neighbors and others in Metrowest.Deacons Fund Application
Please fill out this form and email it to email@example.com
Food pantry is currently CLOSED until future notice.
No walk in the park
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes it clear (Luke 9:21-22) that the road to Jerusalem is no walk in the park. Jesus will repeat that a death-ordeal awaits Him, but no one really understands, let alone believes Him (Luke 9:44-45; Luke 18:34). So as we enter the season of Easter and figuratively get close to Jerusalem ourselves, we too take stock of what we really believe deep down.
The End Game
In Luke 21:5-28, Jesus tells us there is an end game to this endless cycle of death, wars and pestilences: When He returns in glory to establish His Kingdom, the Jerusalem above (Luke 21:27; Revelation 21:1-4). Until then, Jesus prepares us for the rough ride that life on earth can be (Luke 21:10-11). It is a stark reminder that taking up our cross to follow Him can also bring tremendous rejection, suffering and even death (Luke 9:21-22; Luke 21:16-17). While the trials are always different for each generation, the message remains the same: it’s an opportunity to bear witness (21:13). What does this mean for us?
During this time of fear, anxiety, loss, depression and temptations, we remember the words of Jesus: “not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your life (Luke 21:18-19). We can say that because Jesus has conquered death, and by putting our faith in Him, we will too, one day. Paul puts it in the form of a famous question: “who shall separate us from the Love of God?” The answer is, nobody! nothing! The death-ordeal we must all face will be conquered one day.
In the meantime, the temptation to give in to fear is real for every generation. “Keep calm and carry on” was the way Londoners handle it when they faced 76 days of deadly bombings during World War II. For us, to bear witness is to stand in solidarity with our courageous health care workers, researchers looking for a cure, suppliers (farmers, manufacturers of respirators, etc.), and officials at the local, state and federal level (a prayer extended to the entire world). We also bear witness by lifting up families who are either drawing closer together or coming apart as a result of living close to each other. We lift up our children, our students, our unemployed, our professionals, and especially our elderly who many are facing this ordeal alone.
As Gov. Newsom of California recently said, it’s our moment to wake up and grow up. From the perspective of the Gospel, we know that God will use all these terrible events for His purpose. He always does. In the meantime, we look to Him and seize the opportunity to preach the gospel to all nations (Matthew 24:24). This includes our neighbors, our co-workers, our wife or husband; the very same folks, who right now may be a lot more receptive to hearing the good news than only a few precious weeks ago.
The two parables on prayer in Luke 18:1-14 carry a common theme: desperation. The widow is desperate and cries for retributive justice in the face of her adversary/accuser (Luke 18:3; see Revelation 6:10 and Romans 12:19). But she has a second opponent in the parable: the unresponsive, godless, contemptuous judge. However, the “unrighteous judge” ends up granting her justice because he is so inconvenienced by her constant pestering (he couldn’t care less about the merits of her case).
So the question comes to us, is this our perception of God when we cry out to him for retributive justice against evil (Lord stop this evil plague)? Do we really believe He hears our prayer, or do we share Winston Churchill’s view that God is ‘busy elsewhere?’ In reality, God is responsive, just and compassionate and He will act “speedily” and decisively. The promise is God will do His part as we cry to him, but, the real question of this parable is: will we do ours and persevere in believing He will answer us? (Luke 18:8).
The second prayer of desperation is packaged in a very familiar way in Luke: A tax collector pitted against a Pharisee (Luke 5:32; see also the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-10). Both practice social distancing in their posture of prayer in the temple. The pharisee distances himself from others. He prays a prayer of thanksgiving, only it’s about himself, not about God: “I thank you that I’m not like… (we can fill in the blanks here, Luke 18:11). He is smug, standoffish and, oh, so confident of his own right standing before God (the very meaning of justification). The tax collector, on the other hand, practices social distancing from God Himself. He too stands afar but he is beating his chest and cries out in desperation: “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). The mercy he is crying to receive is an appeal for protection from the consequences of his sins. He’s begging the judge to remove the deserved sentencing from him. So his prayer of desperation is the opposite of the widow’s. The widow appeals for justice; he appeals for mercy. At the end of the second story, we have no doubt as to whose prayer is accepted before God. The ‘righteous’ Pharisee’s prayer is rejected, but the cry of desperation of the tax collector/sinner is accepted. He has right standing before God. The punishment he fully deserves has been removed and he goes home “justified” (see Hebrews 2:17). To complete the picture, Jesus ends with the promise that the humble will be exalted, but the proud (“he who exalts himself”) will be humbled (Luke 18:14).
So here too, we ask ourselves, in our prayer life, how desperate are we? Have we been gripped by the sense of our own brokenness and how displeasing our own sin is in the eyes of a holy God? It’s a lot easier to cry out for retribution against others. But how do we really feel about ourselves? The tax collector was accepted by God because he humbled himself before the Lord, broken by his deep awareness of His own sin before a Holy God. In this way, he is like David in Psalms 51:1, “Have mercy on me.” In Psalm 51:17, David and the tax collector and we have our answer: “A broken and contrite [=humble] heart, O God you will not despise.” In the end, both the judge and the Pharisee despise others and both find themselves unrighteous before God.
By placing our faith in Jesus, we know we will be vindicated from all evil in the end. We also believe that as we humble ourselves, with a deep sense of our own shortcomings before Him, he will embrace us and restore us. This is our prayer for ourselves, our community, this land, indeed, the entire world.
15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray (Luke 5:15-16)
Our busy lives have been drastically curtailed, and yet it seems we are quite adept at creating new forms of ‘busy.’ Jesus could have attended to many more people around him, but He didn’t fall for the temptation of feeling needed at every hour of day and night. Instead, He chose to retreat to the wilderness and pray.
Many years ago now, Donna and I learned this hard lesson that we are not indispensable. We needed to be set free from the tyranny of being constantly available to minister to others. The sheer weight of self-imposed demand was crushing us. What a comfort to know that the Living God Himself felt impressed to take time away from the demands of others to pray. Let’s make sure we commit to these times alone with God, even if it’s measured in few minutes away with Him. Recovery time is good; athletes know that. We too need recovery times with the Lord. We will come back stronger and refreshed and ready to serve those around us.
As we continue to feel the shock waves of this worldwide plague, what do we really believe in our moments of fear, and even panic in the face of what’s going on? One thing is certain, no one is looking for platitudes and pat answers, including our children. They will see through ‘fake’ answers a mile away.
Through the ages, Christians have faced times of tremendous economic uncertainty, persecutions, isolation, wars and deadly plagues. Every time, the response has been consistent: we are going to persevere, ride the storm and put our trust in Jesus. This sort of ‘yankee’ no-nonsense attitude is precisely what John the Apostle conveys in Revelation. He sugar-coats nothing. If I may paraphrase the apostle:
The source of all evil is Satan but God allows Satan some measure of freedom to unleash his evil schemes on earth. Satan is the one who has come to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). But the larger picture is there is an end game, a Day of Judgement and Satan and evil won’t have the last word, far from it:
So as we ride this storm, there is an end game to this present darkness and His name is Jesus. The story line from Christmas to Easter is that he came to save the World (John 3:17). The offer of salvation is now. So we are summoned to answer His call to believe in Him. If we put our faith in Jesus, we are set free and have already passed from death to life, from spiritual death to eternal life (John 5:25-29). This is why Christians through the ages have faced death so bravely. They know the Jerusalem above is home, not this present evil age. There is a day of reckoning coming when all wrongs will be made right. I am reminded with tears of that courageous Christian doctor in Wuhan who blew the whistle on this deadly virus, unheeded, and who is now singing the praises of the Living God in His presence. This is why John’s clarion call to endure (Revelation 14:12) rings so true today. The storms of life are real, but with the One who has conquered death “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39)
In the coming days, allow yourself as families and individuals time to reflect how we can reach out and be a voice of mercy to those around us. Now is the time to share in active ways the comfort of Jesus; it may be words of encouragement, or, more directly, the message of salvation that is found in the mighty Name of Jesus.
During this crisis we will provide a daily update via email to keep our community informed on ways to stay connected during this unique and fluid time.
As I converse with other pastors, the sense of spiritual opportunity is very real for the Lord to use this unique time for His glory and for His presence to be made manifest. We look to Him and put our trust in Him during this ‘famine’ (Psalm 33:13-19). May He continue to use us as vessels of His mercy.
Live-stream worship continues
Following the latest announcement on Sunday from Governor Baker, we are going to do live-stream worship as we did yesterday until we are told it is ok to meet again. So next Sunday (and probably into April) we will gather again together to worship via live stream.
We would like to say thank you for joining in worshiping together yesterday via live-streaming. It went (almost) without glitches and we are so thankful to Sang Kim, Ken Keyes, Ben Chen and Lee Chizek for enabling us to provide access to worship during this time. Other members of the tech team include Ryan Scott, Marty Bodley and of course Adam. Please do pray for them as their ministry will be critical until we can worship together in our buildings again.
Prayer partners together
Thank you also for joining the prayer chain yesterday. We continue to pray for one another and healing and protection for those who are directly affected by the virus. We especially lift up families at home with children, the elderly and health and vital services professionals. We also lift up those who are being impacted financially by this general shut down. May the Lord be our protection (Psalm 91:1).
Tomorrow, the family ministry team (Kyle, Sarah and Kate) will send resources for families as to what to do during this time of confinement. We are also working on live-stream options during the week in addition to Sundays.
The office will be opened everyday from 9am to 2:30pm and will take phone and email requests for assistance also after hours, if needed. Note that food pantry hours (donation and visiting) coincide with office hours from 9am to 2:30pm. To keep everyone safe, only authorized staff will have access to the pantry to accept and retrieve foods to distribute.
Pastor Tom and the staff