Pastor Mark Harris’ Page

Profile-Picture-(zoom)W


...let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Worship Where You Are

Have you ever lived through a season more strange than this one? At the time this issue of Cross Ties is being composed, we have just made it through a first peculiar weekend of our life together… one without being able to gather together as a family in the sanctuary—thanks to the ever increasing spread of COVID-19. 

While this may be obvious to many, it is still worth mentioning directly: The decisions we make as a church and in each of our vocations during this crisis must not be motivated by fear… but rather by love. After all, “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Our Savior Jesus has given and continues to give this perfect love to us as a free gift! It is from the source of this love that we are striving to do what is best for our Cross family and for the people of our wider community—all for whom Christ has died and risen again. During this time, it will be absolutely vital for us to proclaim and to display the peace, comfort, and hope that only Jesus can bring.

Only a few weeks ago, it would have been unimaginable to suggest that we would suspend all on-campus worship services and fellowship events. But here we are, and I suspect that we will linger in this peculiar season for a while, if the many global trends hold true for our local context as well. What does this mean? Well, at this moment, it remains difficult to predict what impact exactly all this will have on our observance of Holy Week and our celebration of Easter. Please be encouraged to notice future updates on those plans, especially staying connected through more swiftly deliverable electronic communication such as email and Cross’s social media channels.

Though right now we may not be able to meet together physically to worship, this season presents far more than an interruption of our worship life—it offers us a beautiful opportunity to deepen our participation in a life of worship in some ways that are new to us. During this time, one of my prayers is that the Holy Spirit would guide each of us to grow into even more mature followers of Jesus so that we increasingly participate in the building up of His Kingdom in our community.

So I’d like to share two pastoral thoughts with you that may serve as an encouragement for you while all of us are (by necessity) learning to worship in new ways:

1.   Worshipping Online

Many of us are already familiar with viewing digital content, but worship has never been and never should be a “spectator sport.” Especially during this time when the world is so anxious, we need to actively participate in frequently occurring acts of worship, praising and conversing with the Triune God. He alone can save. He alone is worthy of our worship. Wherever you may find yourself over these coming days, remember to “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10). 

When you join with your church family through our online live stream or by viewing the recordings, speak the words of the liturgy together, listen to the  inspired Word of God together, pray the petitions of the prayers together, and sing the lyrics of the hymns together. This is precisely what God’s people are created to do! God works through your active participation to be a blessing to you and to your brothers and sisters united in Christ.

2.   Family Devotions

One beautiful benefit of this profoundly disruptive circumstance is that many of our normal habits simply cannot keep going on auto-pilot. We are primed to establish new rhythms. If you and your household are already familiar with the practice of at-home devotions, please keep engaging in this God-pleasing practice together! If you are open to the idea of getting started, but aren't entirely sure how… here are a few ideas. 

Portals of Prayer — These daily devotional booklets are already treasured by many in our Cross family, and for good reason. You can also order a digital subscription directly from Concordia Publishing House at cph.org/portals

LHM Daily Devotions — Each morning you can receive an email from Lutheran Hour Ministries by signing up for this free resource at lhm.org/dailydevotions

Everyday Faith Calendar —  This is such a sweet resource for young children (and the young at heart)! Each month, you can find a fresh calendar by searching on this website: blog.cph.org for the “Everyday Faith Calendar.” Each daily square includes a suggested Bible verse to read and a simple activity or conversation starter. This one can really help relieve guess work and prep time.

Songs and Music — The cherished Lutheran Service Book: Pew Edition isn't just for use in our sanctuary, it’s also a great resource for you and your family to use at home. You can order one of your very own from cph.org (They even have it available as an ebook through Amazon Kindle or the Apple iBook store!) Another fantastic resource from CPH is called My First Hymnal and has loads of great content for children and parents. It’s a priceless treasure in my own family that I simply cannot recommend highly enough to you if you have kids in your home. As an added bonus, each of the songs has a free audio recording that you can listen to on the CPH channel of YouTube!

When you have devotion time at home, it doesn't have to be complicated at all. Three worshipful ideas: Read, Pray, Sing. Give it a try! Certainly, if you’d like some pastoral support in this–please let me or Pastor Fraker know. We would be delighted to help you cultivate this grace-breathing spiritual discipline. During times like this, each of us truly needs to have “the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (Colossians 3:16).

—Pastor Mark Harris
 Email

 


ood      © 2017 Cross Lutheran Church, New Braunfels, TX.