Pastoral Letter #6 In This Present Distress

By: Dr. Harry L. Reeder III
January 7, 2021 3:28 PM

Originally Posted May 13, 2020 -

Praise the Lord! In God’s kind Providence we are now able to resume meeting for gathered Lord’s Day worship. We will, of course, communicate and attempt to follow the Government guidelines on “strict social distancing” and the Health Department’s protocols. We do this for multiple reasons but primarily out of love for one another and to love our neighbors well. In fact, in a couple of areas for safety concerns we are expanding those Government guidelines (i.e. instead of every other pew we will be using every third pew). And while not mandating masks we certainly encourage you to feel free to wear your mask and we will also provide disposable masks for any who so desires to use one during worship. Pastorally, if you are wearing a mask, let me encourage you to feel free to use it in a way that allows you to participate and gives you comfort. The Health Department is concerned about those who are older than 65—if you fall into this category, please know you have the freedom to continue to worship by live streaming. Again, there is no mandate for those 65 or older to refrain from gathered worship—as you will fully note when you guess the age of your preaching pastor on Sunday—simply use wisdom as to your present health condition. For details do consult The Briarwood Interim Worship/Ministry Plan C which you have already received from our Executive Pastor, Bruce Stallings.

Another Pastoral word would be how do we “greet one another.” May I ask you to consider two things? First, we are limiting our services to one hour in order to accommodate three worship services on Sunday morning and secure enough time to disinfect the Worship Center and restrooms as well as vacate the parking lot. So, may I ask the 8:00 and 9:30 service attendees to please move directly to your cars after the service? Secondly, what about greeting? My Pastoral encouragement is for you to learn the value of a gracious wave and the “socially distant” Christian hug/handshake. In other words, stay at least six feet away and do a “virtual” handshake/hug. But praise the Lord we will be able to see one another, worship with one another and verbally encourage one another!

Adjusting to our new Interim Worship/Ministry Plan C will take some time and I am sure we will improve each week in what we do and how we do it. So, thanks for your patience. We will wait to resume our Sunday PM Worship and Sunday School Communities but we anticipate their return as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Sunday School Communities will continue their Zoom meetings and our Sunday 6:00 PM “Conversations with Harry and Bruce” will continue for the near future. Please feel free to send your Biblical, Doctrinal, or practical questions to us for our response. Our Community Pastors and Shepherding Teams will continue to reach out through all of the means available for contact as we move forward. By the way, weddings and funerals are now permissible but will be done with the same protocols as the worship services.

I am so appreciative of your thoughtful encouragement, communications, intercessory prayers and faithful giving. I don’t know all the Lord is doing through this “present distress” but I do know He has multiple purposes and is at work.  

Finally, with the conclusion of our Interim Worship/Ministry Plan B we have also concluded the 7-part series, “Crisis and the Christian in Biblical Perspective.” As we move to Interim Worship/Ministry Plan C we are beginning a new interim topical expository series, The Apostles’ Creed in Biblical Perspective. The testimonies of personal, marital, and family spiritual renewal in the Lord have been inspiring.  With the Session’s approval, I have been led to do this series for the summer to enable and encourage our grasp of the “Foundations of our Faith.” Each element of the Apostles’ Creed will be identified and the Biblical text that defines it. This ancient Creed has instructed, inspired and served as an instrument in the worship and witness of Christ’s church for almost 2000 years. Remember “sound lives” come from “sound doctrine” and The Apostles’ Creed is a sound distillation of essential truths believed by all true Christians from which a life that brings glory to God can be built with confidence.

Anticipating this Lord’s Day and being with the Lord’s people…socially distanced, physically present and spiritually engaged.

Pastor Reeder