Zoom in with Zack
Happy December to all of you and welcome to a holiday season unlike any other! Going back to virtual has been tough. It’s the Christmas season, we are supposed to be singing carols together and eating way too much food. It is so hard to do the right thing, especially when we can get so many mixed messages about what that is. There are so many different people telling us so many different things. On top of it all, it makes it all the more difficult when we are just tired of it. So what should we do? While we may not know perfectly what the right answer is, the answer for the church must always be the one that puts the well being of others first and is constantly concerned with the perception of the church from the community around us. Perception matters to our mission.
I remember a few years back while living in Commerce Township a massive power outage that lasted about a week for us and for others almost 2 weeks. It caused the local water treatment facility to stop working properly and forced tens of thousands of people to purchase bottled water for all of their drinking needs. Bottled water was sold out everywhere with lines in front of the door hours before the stores opened. There were two local gas stations that felt the need to price gouge. For a small pack of bottled water they wanted $20 or more. Because of this one incident I immediately came to a conclusion regarding the integrity of the business and its ownership. To this day, I have not bought a single thing from their convenience stores or filled up my car at their pumps. The reason, I saw them take advantage of others in dire need and the perception was that they were bad people.
Quite a few news headlines have caught my attention recently regarding covid outbreaks at churches that were not maintaining proper precautions. There was one church where an outbreak began that was linked to 26 deaths. Then there was another one where an outbreak was reported and they came right back and held in person services the next Sunday anyway. Talking to Anthony Knotts the other day and he tells me of an outbreak at his home church where people are not wearing masks. He is recovering at home because of this outbreak. Ultimately, every story I read about these church outbreaks ends the same way. The church says they care about people, but their actions show that they only care about money and themselves. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if these conclusions are accurate or not. Although I think that in many cases they are. What matters is the church is supposed to put people first. If our actions bring that into question, our mission demands that we adjust accordingly.
Philippians 2:3-5 says this to the church, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
What we need to ask of ourselves as the church is, how will my actions today affect integrity of my message tomorrow? What if my actions change the way someone looks at the church so that they believe us to be a place not where people are cared for above all else, but where selfish ambition and self-serving reigns? The way we act today could affect whether someone walks in these doors tomorrow to find their salvation. What would our community think of us if an outbreak started from one of our services because we were not taking what is accepted as basic precautions? How would that affect our ability to go out with the mission of God tomorrow? If we are going to make a mistake, let it be on the side of elevating the value of others. We care and therefore we go out of our way to inconvenience ourselves.
For this reason I want to say thank you. This has been a long season of struggle for us, but you continue to remain patient, observant, and faithful. I know this is hard and I know you are probably just as sick of it as I am. Meadowbrook has endured well and has shown a strong sense of integrity. I appreciate you for bearing with virtual services, masks, and the cancellation of so much. I know that this makes ministry more difficult today. But I do believe very strongly that our integrity and consistent message of caring will translate into a season of growth and success. I do believe that there are many churches whose messages and impact will suffer as a result of their actions during this pandemic. I do not believe that Meadowbrook is one of those. I believe we can leave this stronger than we came into it. Thank you for continuing to carry out the mission of God with self-sacrifice and great love.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Galatians 5:13-14 NIV
Our special annual candlelight service will take place on Thursday evening, December 24 at 6pm. We will gather in the auditorium to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Through word and song we will remember that night so long ago. We will share together in the Lord’s Supper and then close with the lighting of the candles as we sing Silent Night. This is always a special family event. Plan now to join us and rejoice in Immanuel. We will also be streaming it for those that do not feel comfortable attending in-person service. The Leadership team is working to ensure we are able to meet and celebrate this special evening safely.
Today’s missions update comes from India. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting India quite severely, with infection rates rivalling those in the U.S. The government has shut down many activities including churches and when the churches are closed, Indian ministers have no source of income. Recognizing this need, International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES) has stepped in and established a fund that will provide food for 300 evangelists and their families for the next four months. We thank God that His people’s needs are being met throughout the world. Please continue to pray for the situation in India.
A Special Happy Birthday and/or Anniversary to all of our members below that we have did not acknowledge earlier this year or in previous years.
Ron Borton – January 4
James Friedlund – February 23
Bryan Miller – March 2
Jessica Riedl – March 10
Phil Newton – May 1
Logan Elwell – May 21
Stephanie Elwell – June 4
Patrick Elwell – June 16
Phil & Debi Newton (Ann.) – June 26
Nathan and Cathie Parker (Ann.) – July 1
Owen Parker – July 9
Eric Klaus – July 12
Joyce Tingley – July 26
Nathan Parker – Aug 18
Curtis Parker – Sept 27
Tamara Elwell – October 11
Debi Newton – October 17
Please email Stephanie Ciuba at firstname.lastname@example.org if your birthday and/or anniversary has not been listed in our Messenger. We will update and make sure you are listed going into 2021.
Karen Parrett – December 4
Mary Jane Cavins – December 5
Cathie Parker – December 12
Brad Koster – December 16
Ed & Karen Parrett (Ann.) – December 21
Karen Robinson – December 21
Darrell & Jean Cox (Ann.) – December 22
Elaine Klaus – December 24
Cindy Gerstenlauer – December 25
Matt & Brenda Cox (Ann.) – December 27
Jerri Gilbert – December 29
Jean Cox – December 30