Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9

Hello Church Family,

This quarantine thing is getting pretty old now, isn’t it? I’m grateful we are starting to see good results as New Jersey’s curve is getting flatter. All this social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and everything that goes with that are having positive effects on reducing the spread of the coronavirus but, they’re having negative effects on our mental health as well. I’ve been calling everyone in our congregation and, while I’m happy to say that our folks are weathering this storm well, I’ve had more than a few conversations about anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, exhaustion, you name it. People are going stir-crazy! And it’s all perfectly normal. If your nerves are frayed or you just can’t stand looking at the same wallpaper for one more day, you’re not alone. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to feel bad. We’re all dealing with unprecedented change and the stress it’s causing can wear down the best of us, from our essential workers on the front line to the rest who are homebound.

Paul’s words to the church in Philippi are a lifeline at a time like this. There is so much we cannot control but, the one thing we can is where we focus our thoughts. Paul tells us to dwell on that which reminds us of God’s goodness and love. As you read Philippians 4:8-9, I want you to consider each category Paul mentions and think of one thing that fits it.

I thought of:

  • the truth of Jesus Christ and how it gives me hope;
  • the nobility of those who put their own health at risk to care for us;
  • the justice of people sharing what they have with those who don’t;
  • my son’s laugh which is pure joy;
  • my wife as we sit in the backyard at night drinking tea and enjoying the quiet;
  • the people I admire who use their creativity and talents to lift our spirits;
  • the generous people of our church who have offered to help each other and our community in so many ways;
  • and I thought about how in all of these, I see the love of God and the Spirit of Jesus Christ at work. And it fills me with praise.

What did you think of? Please let us know by dropping us a message or giving us a call.

Being apart is hard but God is with us. Keep coming back to that by remembering all of the praiseworthy things in your own life and practicing all that Jesus taught us about love, persistence, and hope. That’s the best key to finding peace I know.

We will continue to worship and meet online exclusively through May. Our church council and I are working on plans for what church will look like when we reopen. We are following the recommendations of our Annual Conference and the State of New Jersey so that we can come back together safely and responsibly. We do not have a date yet but will notify everyone as soon as we do. Until then, you can worship with us on our Facebook page ( live at 10am every Sunday or replay the service later. See our weekly e-newsletter, The Lifeline, or our website for more details about our worship and how to attend the groups, studies, and meetings online. If you cannot access our online services, call the office and you can receive a weekly mailing with the latest information and a copy of that week’s sermon.

Please continue to pray for our church as we navigate these challenging times. Pray for the worship leaders bringing our services into your home every Sunday and for all the folks keeping our ministries active and vital. Pray for all those affected by this virus. Pray for all those working hard to care for the sick and find treatments and vaccines. Pray for peace in our homes, our communities, our nation, and in the nations of the world. Pray for God to be glorified and for the world to know the saving love of Jesus Christ.

Pray for me, too, and know that I am praying for you.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor John

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