~ The Return of the Exiles ~
“ And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion…everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, and they shall obtain joy and gladness. ”
~ Isaiah 35:10
Dear Members and Friends, It’s usually only bad news that causes me to scrap my plans and rewrite everything. On a few occasions, I’ve finished writing a nice little devotional sermon on a Friday, looking forward to a free Saturday. But then Saturday rolls around with some grim catastrophe that must be addressed from the pulpit. You cannot talk glibly about how God uses sorrow to make us wiser when everyone’s spirits are still reeling from yesterday’s earthquake, or hate crime, or mass shooting. There are times when you just have to give up your Saturday and start over.
But this week? This week it’s GOOD NEWS that causes me to scrap the newsletter article I had already written. Yesterday, at our August Zoom meeting, Session voted to reopen our exterior property for use by church groups! First the cautions: Strict adherence to social distancing guidelines MUST be observed. Masks are required for all events. Elbow bumps instead of handshakes or hugs! The church building remains closed, and restrooms will NOT be available for use, so please limit your group’s events to shorter time slots. OUTDOOR WORSHIP & FELLOWSHIP: On Kickoff Sunday, September 13, at 9:30 a.m., we will conduct an in-person worship service at Bower Hill Church for the first time since March 8! Our front lawn, bordering Moffett Street, will be marked up into 50 squares of 10 feet each. One square per household—whether it’s a family of five or a family of one. Please bring: lawn chairs or blankets to sit on; umbrellas to use against the sun; bread and grape juice for communion. Masks will be required. If you forget to bring one, there will be a limited number on hand. The outdoor services will have to be abbreviated. There will be no singing, no children’s sermon, and no offering. But won’t it be wonderful to be together again? After the worship service, you will be invited to stay, if you like, and jump from square to square to visit with your friends. Please check the weather each Sunday. There is no Plan B for outdoor worship services, and they will be canceled in case of inclement weather. (No worries, we will remind you of all these guidelines as the date draws closer.)
If in-person worship might jeopardize your health, we would encourage you to talk with your loved ones and a medical professional before coming back to church. Please self-select! We will not turn you away…unless you refuse to wear a mask. ONLINE WORSHIP: We will continue to produce a recording each week of a full-scale worship service, just as we have done throughout the pandemic. It will be filmed in the sanctuary and will include hymns, anthems, and the same weekly sermon as the outdoor service. As always, the link via YouTube will be emailed to you each Saturday. Surely I’m forgetting something. However, there is additional information regarding classes, groups, and upcoming meetings on Page 2 of this newsletter. Please contact me if you need any information that I’ve left out. Thank you for your faithfulness to Christ’s church throughout this strange season. The pandemic is not over yet, but we proceed with cautious optimism. It’s called hope; it’s one of the Big Three (I Cor. 13:13). It will be such a joy to see each other again. In Christ’s Peace, ~Brian
GOOD NEWS! -- Opening the Church Information -- (continued from Brian's message)
OTHER CHURCH GROUPS & CLASSES: Please check inside this newsletter to see special announcements from the church groups or classes with which you are involved.
Note: 1st Baptist will also be worshiping outdoors on our property, but unfortunately we cannot yet open the grounds to other outside groups.