It has been a blessing to spend this first month of Spring in Chesapeake City, and an even greater blessing to worship with our church family inside Trinity church these past few weeks. The changing of the seasons for both the world around us and our church family has filled me with an even deeper appreciation for our God and all the good that has been given us!
What a blessing it has been to worship inside with our church family these past few weeks, both in person and online. It has certainly been quite a weight and a long time coming, but it was a personal joy for me to finally lead Sunday service inside Trinity church. It fills my heart with joy not simply to gather together both in person and online, but also to know that we continue to move closer to a resolution to the current COVID pandemic. I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to the regathering team and to all those who assist in Sunday worship for making our move back inside possible and successful. It is a blessing to be able to work with such wonderful folks knowing that everyone truly works out of a desire to serve the Lord and our church family. And of course, I would like to thank our entire church family for abiding by all of our safety measures for indoor worship and the continuing faithfulness of those who worship online.
Related to this I'd like to remind everyone that for the foreseeable future we will maintain our current pattern for Sunday worship. This being our traditional service at 9:00 a.m., Sunday School at 10:15, and the Jacob’s Well contemporary service at 11:00. Both the 9:00 and 11:00 services will be streamed to the church’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/chesapeakecityumc) and recordings will be uploaded later that day to the Pastor’s Page of the church’s website (www.chesapeakecityumc.com). While our transition to using the sanctuary as our main worshiping space has not been seamless, we are proud to be able to offer our services both live-streamed and recorded for all those who are not yet ready or able to attend in person. We hope to continue this practice indefinitely, as the ability to access worship online is not just a consideration for COVID, but improves the accessibility of connecting with both God and our church family for all persons.
If you have any questions or concerns related to worship or the life of the church in this time I encourage you to contact any member of the regathering team, church leadership, or myself. We are continuously monitoring the health situation of our community and will make adjustments as needed, but feel free to bring any questions or concerns to us.
On the eve of such hopeful changes in the seasons and life of the church I am reminded of Jesus teaching on the true vine from John 15: 1-4.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”.
In this beautiful piece of scripture, Jesus reminds us that one of the most basic prerequisites for real growth is for us to continually abide in Christ. For us as Christians this means to continually seek out Christ in our everyday lives, to work at living into God's will for us and those around us, to move in faith throughout the world so that the gospel is proclaimed not just with our words but with every aspect of our lives. This is the spiritual fruit that Christ is bringing about in each of us, the spiritual fruit of love, a crop that can only be produced when we remain in the one who gives us life. I find this section of scripture to be particularly important given the changing of the seasons and the changing of our church community. We as people of faith must remember that it is God and God alone who is the giver and continuing source of our life. In a world that so continually attempts to distract us and convince us that there are other places to turn besides God for life and growth, it's more important than ever to hold fast to that which has brought us this far. Let us remain in Christ, that we might continue to grow in his love and grace, that love and grace might overflow into all the world around us and that we might become living testimonies to God's love and grace at work in us. Just as anyone can tell a plant by its fruit, so too should others be able to tell who we are by the spiritual fruit we produce, the way we live our lives, and for who we live our lives. So at this changing of the seasons, I remind and challenge all of us to remain with the one who has given us life and brought about the growth of all the fruit in us thus far: Jesus, the true vine.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Sam Mitchell
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