From the Pastor's Pen

October 2020

From the Pastor’s Pen . . . .

It’s beginning to feel like fall in East Tennessee. Now and then, there’s a faint chill in the morning air. The skies are returning to their characteristic fall shade of deep blue. Wild flowers punctuate fields and byways with color, as if to goad the sugar maples and sourwoods into commencing their grand fall display. And yes, “Its football time in Tennessee!”

True, some things are different this year. The ubiquitous virus continues to have an impact upon most every aspect of daily life. But I’m seeing signs of hope. Churches are open, schools are functioning, some restaurants actually allow patrons to dine-in, and—this is a biggie—Walmart has opened both of its main entrances. Here and there, I’m seeing signs of society doing its best to re-establish some vestiges of normality. Even though a return to “normal” as we once experienced it is unlikely, I am encouraged.

Recently, your Church Council met and agreed that it’s time for Glenwood to take the next steps in returning to a normal schedule of activities and ministries. On Wednesday, October 21, Glenwood will resume our mid-week ministries for students and children, including transportation for those who need it. (The War Room prayer ministry and adult choir rehearsal will resume on a date as yet to be determined.) Of course, like so many other things, adjustments will need to be made to ensure the safety of both participants and workers. Face coverings will be encouraged for all (except for those who have medical conditions that make face coverings ill-advised), temperature checks will be made prior to entry into the church van or facility, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be implemented.

As you can imagine, more help will be needed in all areas of the Wednesday ministry. Each age group will need an additional helper or two. Additional help will be needed to check-in children and students prior to entering the building. Sanitization protocols will require additional personnel to wipe-down surfaces and generally ensure a safe and clean environment throughout the evening. But all of these things are things we can do, if our hearts are in the right place. Rather than being an obstacle to resuming our Wednesday ministries, these extra needs are better viewed as opportunities—opportunities to serve the Lord and share the love of Jesus with students and children, many of whom need His love and your love more than we could ever know.

Of course, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway!) that your participation in any of the worship times, activities, and ministries of the church is a personal decision that only you can—or should—make. Know that the leadership of the church will do their utmost to ensure a safe environment for growing in- and serving the Lord, but only you, as you are led by the Holy Spirit, can know what is best for you in these unusual times. Whatever decision you make, as one of your Church Council members rightly observed is not merely “okay,” it is “good,” and you will be respected and appreciated for it.

As we transition from COVID-19 paralysis to a “more normal” way of life, both individually, as a church, and in society in general, “attitude” may be the most accurate predictor of success. For the Christian attitude is not merely one’s mental posture; it is at once the inworking and outworking of faith. If faith—which is simply shorthand for trust and confidence in God—does not produce a positive attitude in us, it is because our ends and aims are not those of Christ. In coming days, we will face many obstacles. Some will be familiar, others, not so much. Some will be molehills, others, mountains. It is my firm belief, however, that in the providence of God every obstacle brings opportunity. Perhaps it brings opportunity to approach our goals differently . . . or re-evaluate them altogether. Perhaps it sparks our creativity, infuses new energy, or leads to a new ministry or activity. Obstacle or opportunity? No. For the people of faith, it’s obstacle = opportunity. In coming weeks and months, let’s hold one another accountable to see and seize the opportunities that lie within the obstacles we will face.

Blessings to you all,

Pastor Mark