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“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard, Scottish Theologian

Do you ever wish you could start over again? I do! I fondly think back to my days in high school and college where every new semester brought new opportunities, new friendships and the chance to put an end to what happened last semester in favor of a bright and shiny new season of life.

As we get older, those energizing and joyful fresh starts seem to become fewer and far between and we tend to reflect more deeply on the fresh starts of yester-year. Did we use them wisely?

Now that I’m holding on to my 40’s for dear life (not really…I love this season of life), I still sometimes long for another chance to do things differently…to do things better.
That’s the two sided coin of hindsight…beauty and a curse.

Perhaps this is why there are so many movies and TV shows that are wrapped around the idea of going back in time. If we could only take what we know now and apply it to the past…how different would things be.

But what if…
WHAT if…
What IF we took this moment to decide that we are going to start today to make a brand new ending?

As we watch the numbers of active COVID cases dropping in our community, we are all asking ourselves if we have handled this pandemic the right way. Could we have done differently? Could we have handled it better? Could I have been easier to live with? Could I have been more patient with my family, my kids…with everyone? Could we as a church have done more?

Of course the answer to all of those questions is yes. But are they the right questions?

The tribe of Issachar was described as the people in Israel “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” in 1 Chronicles 12:32.

Right now…TODAY…many people are asking questions about what could have been. Some of those are even asking the better question of WHAT COULD STILL BE. As followers of Jesus, we need to be thinking about new ways to help answer that question.

Did you know that YouVersion (the Bible App) has consistently been one of the most downloaded apps this past year. Last month, it topped the list as THE most downloaded app. People are asking new questions and turning to old ways to to make a brand new beginning.

I can tell you that I have been consumed over these last few months with these questions. How do we read the signs of the times and be more effective at knowing Christ? At building community? At loving each other? At growing in faith? At sharing Jesus with those who are hurting?

Looking forward, I anticipate an imminent return to in person worship and groups, though I’m not sure on the exact date, yet. I anticipate a return to a different context with a similar Jesus. A return to a vibrant children’s ministry (with your help) that goes deeper in helping families disciple their children. A dynamic youth ministry where fun and friends are filtered throughout times of deeper spiritual growth. Groups where our community is touched and you are empowered to love life, Jesus and each other. A way to engage our community with more effective evangelism and the birth of new relationships that are already happening.

We can’t change what has been but we can create a new ending, or in our case, a better way forward that will have no end.

Even though we are still online only for now, there are some ways that you can still be engaged right now.

1. Reach out to each other. You can call, text, email or you can jump on our Facebook page or private Facebook group to leave a word of encouragement, a prayer request or even a funny story.

2. Continue to impact our community depending on how comfortable you are. There are still many opportunities to serve at the Red Bank Food Pantry, Room in the Inn and we are going to be scheduling some outdoor service opportunities for widows in need as the weather improves.

3. Volunteer on our Tech Team. As online opportunities for sharing our faith grows, our need for volunteers also grows. If you are comfortable being around a few people, we could use some additional help with lights, slides, sound and managing our online services. Even if you don’t have any experience, we can train you. In the coming days, we are going to be increasing our online engagement, so there are plenty of opportunities there, too. You can email me if you want to get connected.

4. Volunteer for our new Welcome Team. It’s so new, you can’t actually do anything, yet! However, we have already connected with several new friends during this time that need a smiling face to great them when we return to worship. We need people to sit with them on their first visits. We need people to send emails, make phone calls and generally be the welcoming arm of our church. If you are interested in helping, you can also email me.

We can’t go back and change the past, but we can write a new future. I hope you will do that with me.

FYI, stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Pastor Mark

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