STAYING ESSENTIAL

Despite our increasing concern and isolation from the Corona Virus, I was excited to see a bright spot that I hope you’ve noticed too.  Have you seen what’s been high up on the “Essential Services” list consistently across the various iterations of guidance from the Governor’s office and others, is religious gatherings? 

Right up there with food, fire, police and medical is religious services!  

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Now I’m NOT suggesting we ignore all the wisdom and safely guidance coming out, but it was exciting to see that even the secular government recognizes what many of us in the church world have been proclaiming for millennia– that practicing the presence of God is an ESSENTIAL facet of life– not just some added luxury that we can afford as a bonus when life is safe and comfortable.
Last week I had cited that wonderful passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus talks about the importance of abiding in him.  I know of no other place in scripture that is so clear and concise on the importance of our vital connection with Jesus, than in that same passage, Jesus boldly proclaims:  5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15: 5)
Now Jesus isn’t saying here that people who don’t abide in Jesus can’t feed themselves, tie their own shoes, brush their teeth, wash there hands (OVER and OVER again these days!).  But when outside of Jesus, even the best of science will tell you that all we are is a brief blip of a cosmic accident in the story of the universe, only by abiding in Jesus are we able to do anything of any real significance.  Countless lions and tigers and bears, and spiders, mosquitoes, gnats, and other creepy crawlies, live, procreate, have “families” in their own ways– as do human animals.  But it’s that abiding in Jesus that makes us Something More.  
Without that legally proclaimed “essential” religious connection, that spiritual reality of who we are, of Whose we are in Christ, the adopted Children of the Great God, Creator of the Universe– can be too easily lost.  Just remembering that makes you want to sing, doesn’t it– something like “How Great Thou Art,” “Our God is an Awesome God,” “Victory in Jesus,” “As the Deer Panteth For the Water,” or something like that.
Stay “essential.”  Stay connected, abiding in Christ.  We of course do that in worship together each Sunday, but even when we can’t gather in worship, we can worship as individuals, as families.  We can pray and focus on scripture– that’s all it takes to worship– we can love God and love our neighbor, whether we go to church or not.  But we can do nothing of any real importance without maintaining that “essential” connection with Christ.  So keep praying.  Keep reading the scriptures and blessing others.  Keep loving, and keep on keepin’ on in your connection with Jesus.  After all, even the Governor and the state and federal health departments recognize how essential that is!
Keep being a blessing, and keep connecting– Pastor Jim

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