To every one of you who has completed or will complete this year their high school, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees we offer joyful and heartfelt congratulations.
Graduation is a daunting change under normal circumstances, but the class of 2020 is walking into a world of very unusual uncertainty. There is the disappointment of family not being able to see them march to Pomp and Circumstance, or even of not being able to see their family at all for a year or three of OPT. Job security is even less guaranteed than in previous years as the unemployment rate continues to climb. Friends are leaving town without a chance to say goodbye in person, graduation parties are out of the question, and travel restrictions make relocation complicated. And in the midst of all this is the heavy reality of increased personal responsibility, combined with an exponentially expanded set of choices for the future.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” – Matthew 6:33-34a (ESV)
The people who sat down to listen in on the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7 were an oppressed people–poor, unsophisticated, lacking in political power, and taxed mercilessly without getting much in return. No doubt their lives were encumbered by financial worries and social and religious pressures of all kinds. For them, just as it feels for many of us, “don’t be anxious” is a ludicrous demand. How can you possibly not worry when you are in constant danger of running out of money, falling sick, being cheated and silenced by powerful people, or failing to live up to your family’s standards and expectations?
The things concerning and the level to which we experience anxiety, though, are more indicative of the weight we place on them ourselves than of the actual gravity of our situation. We want financial stability, wellness, justice, good social standing; it is natural and good that we should care about and strive for those things. But Jesus reminds us that those earthly concerns are secondary to a right relationship with God. Having riches, health, power, and status does not keep us from being burdened by the thought of losing them, or being slaves to a desire for more. But when we are able to trust God–who, the Bible tells us, is intimately aware of our needs and loves us more than our own parents ever could–to provide, we are free to use our minds for what we were meant for all along: being with God.
Many of us, whether we are new graduates or not, are going through a season of change, in which we are forced to evaluate what we need, what we want, and how to go about getting those things. It is so important that we put everything else we think we want second to our desire for God, to see our work or salary or grades or reputation only as means to glorifying God and enjoying our relationships with our neighbors and with God. Every day, before taking any steps in any direction, slow down and remind yourself that you are loved and taken care of, pray that “God’s will be done,” and do your very best.
Sermon Sneak Peek
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.John 7:37-39
This week we begin a series focusing on the Holy Spirit. Let us meditate on this passage in preparation for receiving God’s message.
Happy News of the Week
There is cause to be cautiously optimistic about solutions for the pandemic as “promising developments” in COVID-19 vaccine development have been reported around the world this week.
Living Water Challenge
During our online services we have been doing a virtual “Fellowship of Believers,” in which a few of us share what is going on in our lives in video form. Now we would like to take it a step further and turn this into a challenge. God has blessed us with a wonderful church family, and we want to encourage and share our gratitude with each other.
We will actively challenge one another to send in photos or a video to share a part of your daily life, a personal testimony, a favorite passage of Scripture, a musical performance, or any life updates. Once you are nominated, leadership will reach out to help you continue the challenge. All church members including children are eligible for nomination!
Overflow Patchwork Dinner
Join us on Saturday, May 30 @ 5 pm for the Overflow Patchwork Dinner: The Fruits of the Spirit!
Guest speaker Pastor David will be talking with us about the fruits of the Spirit. We will each prepare one item for our dinner, which will be distributed. One body, many dinner items! (via Zoom with real dinner)
Ongoing Dialogue with East Paris CRC
Our “Exploration for the Future” team met with East Paris Council on Monday. They have not been able to worship together at all during the lockdown and are eager to be a part of Living Water. This means Living Water will take on responsibility for the East Paris property, which is both an opportunity and a risk.
East Paris has proposed that the property be under the escrow of Classis Thornapple, which East Paris church currently belongs to, until Living Water becomes an organized church. Let us discern together through prayers our future together with East Paris.
Classis Grand Rapids East has decided that we will be opening churches together when the pandemic is declared to be in Stage 5, or the “containing” stage (Stage 3 – flattening, Stage 4 – declining). Even when we do open, we will have to take a lot of safety measures such as social distancing (spacing out sitting), masks and sanitizers, and contact tracing. Please pray for God’s guidance and wisdom.
- Sunday, May 24 10:00am: Sunday Worship
- Wednesday, May 27 2:00pm: Women’s Bible Study
- Wednesday 6:30pm: Overflow Gathering (Contact Anne Geiges for details at email@example.com)
- Thursday, May 28 7:00pm: Prayer Meeting
- Friday, May 29 4:00pm: LWYG Bible Study Password: lwyg
All meetings will be held on Zoom. Click on the links to join!
Men’s Bible Study
Pastor David would like to start a men’s Bible study in the near future. If you are interested in a weekly meeting to discuss the Word with your brothers in Christ, please let Pastor David (firstname.lastname@example.org) know!
Living Water continues to seek people to serve in leadership. The following are in need of volunteers:
- Welcoming Ministry
- Outreach Ministry
- Diaconal (Mercy) Ministry
- College Small Group Leaders for the Fall
Please contact a leader if you feel called to step up!
Online Office Hours with Pastor David
If you would like to meet with Pastor David, you can contact him at email@example.com to set up a virtual meeting. Pastor David would love to get to know everyone who comes to Living Water!
Some Things to Pray About This Week
- For healing and solidarity in this global pandemic
- Strength and encouragement for leaders to continue to serve
- For new graduates navigating this difficult time
- For those struggling with finances
- For students who may not be able to go home for the summer
- For LWCRC to minister to the needs of the community
Many Christians around the world are fasting and praying for the Lord to heal their land. We encourage each of you to come to Living Water’s weekly Zoom prayer meeting on Thursday nights at 7pm to join our brothers and sisters!
See you all Sunday.
Grace to you and peace,