March 20, 2020
Community has been the essence of Christ's church since it began in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. . . . people of like faith gathering together for worship and fellowship. This is facing serious challenges as we now all practice sheltering in place and social distancing as the order of the day.
Acts 2:42 describes the early community of believers in these words: "They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Can we still be "devoted" to these four foundational principles of community as we combat the Coronavirus? Or are they to be put aside until things return to normal?
Let me suggest some ways that we as Christians might continue in the tradition of community, even while we are going through these extraordinary times.
- Bible Reading - The most obvious and convenient way of all. Devote yourself daily to reading God's Word.
- Church Website - At occidentalcommunitychurch.org you will find sermons from the past few years with titles and Scripture references. Listen to one or more.
- TV, Radio, & Internet Websites - You can find reliable and edifying teaching here, but be discerning. There is irresponsible and erroneous teaching to be found as well. Be careful!
- Telephone - We all have access to a phone. Call and talk to others. Pray with others over the phone.
- Email - A great way to connect and keep in touch.
- Social Media - Several forms of social media exist to keep you connected with fellow-Christians. Choose the one you like. Click here for the OCC Facebook page.
- Letter Writing - Remember this? The Post Office is still open! This is a slower way to connect, but preferred by some. A quick note can do wonders to lift someone's spirit.
BREAKING BREAD (COMMUNION)
You need not limit communion to our corporate gatherings at church on Sunday. Within your own home a simple communion service can be very meaningful. Take grape juice (or wine) & bread and prepare your own elements. The service can include a short Bible reading, eating and drinking the bread and juice, and prayer.
This can be done weekly or as often as you wish. Jesus said, "As often as you do this . . ." He left the frequency up to His followers.
There is nothing in the Bible requiring this to be administered by the clergy or inside a church building. Among Christians around the world today, in the persecuted church, and even among believers in prisons a communion service can be a glorious experience.
Simply close your eyes, meditate, and allow God's Spirit to direct your prayer. Sometimes you can't even find words, but God listens to your heart and knows what you need. A practical way I have found to pray for others is to go to our church directory. As you read a name there, visualize that person and offer a short prayer. Do this each day or even several times a day. We have distributed these directories at church, and you will also find it on our website. To know that someone is praying for you every day brings a great sense of hope!
Finally, some have asked about their tithes and offerings during this period. My suggestion is
- Mail a check to the church weekly or monthly - Occidental Community Church, P.O. Box 361, Occidental, CA 95465, or
- Put aside your offerings and bring them on Easter for one big offering!
We will allow NO VIRUS, NO THREAT, NO HARDSHIP, NO ADVERSARY to rob us of the joy of being "devoted" to Jesus Christ and His glorious church!