September Gospel News

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September Gospel News

September Gospel News

Introduction: The monthly Gospel News has been sent by mail and E-mail since the 1990s. When the pandemic started in March and church was not meeting in person, I started writing and sending a weekly update. Today I write on September 1, 2020. Because the mailing has been inconsistent, I will expand this communication and send a copy by regular mail to the old mailing list.

Over the years we have lost E-mail contact information at least twice. If you receive this by regular mail but prefer the weekly E-mail communication, please send a quick E-mail to fortleegospel@juno.com or leave a message on our website, www.fortleegospel.org.

This communication will include thoughts about Labor Day, restarting schools, and ways of staying connected with church ministries.

Labor Day 2020 (September 7, 2020)

In the world before Covid 19, it was estimated that the average Christian spent 40 hours at work for every hour spent in church. About three years ago I was hired as a Marketplace Chaplain, where I serve as a chaplain to several Christian owned companies. This year has given me a greater admiration for the challenges faced by business owners. This season will be remembered as a most unusual year for workers and employers.

The impact of the pandemic has not been experienced the same by every work environment. Some industries such as Amazon have grown significantly as malls were all closed. At the other extreme, industries such as travel and entertainment have ground to a halt in the past six months. Many employees are staying at home and working remotely. Unemployment numbers has been at record highs. Medical workers have risen to hero status and have now returned to life pre-Covid. For a time, employees in grocery stores and delivery services were given a long overdue respect as ‘essential workers.’ Teachers have had the challenge of using Zoom to educate those in kindergarten through college, with a wide range of effectiveness.

On this most unusual Labor Day week, here are some reflections on ‘work’ from God’s Word.

We were made to be productive. A Christian work ethic begins by saying that God made us to build, teach, organize, cook, or contribute in some way to life on this planet.

Before there was sin, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15) In the next chapter we learn that work became hard because of sin (Gen. 3:17-19) but the idea of work includes the goodness of being productive.

In the New Testament several followers of Jesus felt that work was a waste of time. They were busy getting ready for the return of Jesus and living off the generosity of other Christians. In response to this mentality, Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”” (II Thess. 3:10)

In response to the principle that we were made to be productive, here are a few thoughts. We work for more reasons than to pay the bills. It is good to get up in the morning with something to accomplish for that day. Our society has the highest unemployment in a generation. This is not good for individuals, families, or our society. We pray for a return to productive employment in the months ahead. 

As many of us have had lots of free time, be reminded that life does not begin with retirement. A better approach to life is to plan to retire in ways that continue to be productive. Helping with the family, volunteering your time, or contributing to building God’s kingdom are all ways to take the boredom out of retirement. As we emerge from our extra time at home, I pray that we all live productive lives according to our unique situations.

As I drive around the region, I see many businesses that have folded because of this health and financial crisis. It is a reminder that healthy businesses need margins to see them through downturns in the economy. Where a restaurant was barely making it, this crisis has shuttered the doors. In life we need to live with margins as well. Having a few dollars in the bank or learning to get away for breaks can make the difference in surviving challenging times.

One of the themes of the pandemic is that God has ‘stripped away’ much of what we consider normal. There are lessons in this season which include evaluating our priorities and the way we live our lives. Considering this theme, what is God saying to us about our work life? Are we investing in work that aligns with our unique calling? Does our work commitment allow us to invest in building our faith, helping our families, and making a difference in this world? Is their alignment between our employment and our calling? God made you to be productive.

Back to School

September 2020 is a back to school month like no other. Most of our local schools are starting with remote learning. This is challenging for both our educators and our families. A passage that will be a part of my preaching series in a couples of weeks is Mark 10:13-16 which says,

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

The context of this passage is that the first Century did not place a high value on children. Most Rabbis in the time of Jesus would have not made time for children. Jesus shows anger towards his disciples who are sending children away.

In this season of Covid 19 children have suffered without access to the classroom and other activities. We as the church have been limited in the ways that we have been able to minister to children. Our approach has been to equip parents to help their own children grow spiritually. Our prayers have been with our parents of young children who have often had to juggle work and homeschooling in the spring and now the fall seasons.

Be reminded that Jesus values children and we are called to love what Jesus loves and prioritize where Jesus prioritizes. Children can teach us about simple trust and faith. Children are to be blessed and honored by the church. We look forward to the days ahead when the church basement becomes a busy hub of activity for the children as they learn about faith at their level.

As we enter September 2020, we honor the educators who start a new school year and we pray for the challenges faced by children and parents.

Announcements

  • Sunday worship services continue to be livesteamed on our Fort Lee Gospel Facebook page and our website, www.fortleegospel.org. We can accommodate up to 25 people in attendance in our building for the 11:00 AM Sunday worship service.
  • Our next Church Picnic will be at the New Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, NJ on Wednesday, September 16th from 4:00 – 7:00 PM. A rain date for September 17th. Mark your calendar.
  • The Tuesday 7:00 PM Bible study is online only today. We meet in person on alternating weeks.
  • The 6:00 AM Prayer Meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays is at church with an option to connect on Google Meet.
  • Connect info for Tuesday Bible Study and Morning Prayer is:

Meeting URL :

https://meet.google.com/suk-xpsf-nwh

For dial in: 

Phone: +1 567-351-1104 PIN: 469 349 929#

  • Please contact the church if you are interested in the Tuesday Men’s Bible Study, Saturday Women’s Bible Study or College meetings.