“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”” (Joshua 1:9)
It is our Lord who tells us “In this world you will have trouble”. With all the issues of COVID-19 and in witnessing the violence and unrest in our cities has certainly caused us to agree with our Lord about the trouble in the world. However, Jesus said trouble is something we “will have”. Once we accept this truth as part of the life we are given to live then we can turn to our Lord’s next command – “Be strong and courageous. Do not to be terrified and discouraged.” Why courage and strength without fear and discouragement? Because He’s the all-powerful and all-loving God who is with us in whatever we do or wherever we go. Certainly, these words of our Lord are appropriate and needed instruction in this day of uncertainty. Whether it’s a virus threatening our health and society, violence in the streets of our cities, or any other trouble we face to be strong and courageous not discouraged or afraid is how our loving and gracious Lord enables us to live.
In particular and regarding the virus raging through our nation, all of us have had to show discernment as we carefully consider the threat this virus might have on ourselves, our family, and community. We want to be “strong and courageous” but not foolish in the decisions we make. Our school administration, business leaders, and the leadership of NDHC have all been working through policies and procedures they have felt best meets their situation. Our Ebenezer Council has also been meeting regarding how we might proceed as a church going forward. Obviously, the threat of COVID-19 has not yet passed and we realize not all will be comfortable in assembling for corporate worship until such a time. Some in our Ebenezer family may feel it is best to stay in quarantine until the threat is passed. However, others in our Ebenezer family have felt the freedom of coming together in public worship. In whatever position you feel you need to take in these days of COVID, the verses of John 16:33 and Joshua 1:9 are before us as our comfort and instruction going forward.
As we look ahead to the next months as an Ebenezer church family, we are planning to open our ministry to you and our community a bit wider with a fall program we hope will allow you to enter more deeply into the worship life of Ebenezer church.
Starting September 13th, our worship service time will be changing to 10:30am. In this service, we will continue not to use hymn books, pass the offering plate, or have ushers handing out bulletins. However, printed bulletins will again be offered but stacked on tables to be picked up as one enters the sanctuary. Collection of the offering will continue to be a basket located at the sanctuary doors. Children’s sermon will be added to the service with children invited to the front for a message. We will also be opening the coffee nook, offering coffee before Sunday School and after our worship service.
Regarding Sunday School, classes for all ages will be offered starting at 9:15. This includes the junior high and senior high classes. Make sure you read our Youth Director’s column as Toby shares of the plans for our youth.
Shari Sherva and Kat Funseth of our Christian Education committee are committed to making sure all our Ebenezer families have opportunity to join in the Sunday School lessons whether or not your family is ready to come to our church facility. Curriculum was chosen this year that allows the lesson to be completed at home by the student or with the help of parents. The plan is to weekly mail all lessons to the homes of whoever requests them. Please contact Robin at the church office (701-587-6105) or either Shari or Kat with this request.
Adult classes will also be offered at the 9:15 hour. The Adult class will meet in the dining hall with plenty of space to spread out. We will again be using the projector to learn from gifted teachers and spend time in discussion. All are welcome.
After Service Meal
As is our tradition to serve a meal at the beginning of Sunday School (Rally Sunday) pulled pork sandwiches together with all the fixings will be served after the worship service. This is not a potluck meal. The entire meal will be provided, dished, and served on plates by volunteers. All are invited to come and join in a fellowship meal after the worship service.
I might also give you an update on how we will be serving communion for the next while. We will offer communion on the first Sunday of the month with the option of taking communion at your seat or coming to the altar in front. Single serve ‘bread and juice’ containers are offered to all who desire to take the Lord’s Supper as you remain in your seat. Those who wish to come to the altar will be given the elements by myself and a helper (our hands will be sanitized before distributing elements).
Over these last four months, a worshiping group of roughly ½ our normal attendance has been coming together for worship. Even as we have had fewer attend corporate worship I have been encouraged of the many who have faithfully attended Ebenezer worship virtually. Each Sunday, our worship services are being offered over the internet in a “live stream”. At the hour of worship (9:30 over the summer and starting September 13th at 10:30) worship services are offered “live” through either our website ebenezerflc.org, boxcast, or on the Ebenezer Facebook Page. Our worship services are also archived which allows you to listen to the service at the day and time of your convenience and also listen to a service you may have missed. Unfortunately, our community cable channel which once was a source of connection to those without internet service has been discontinued.
I want to thank our Ebenezer family for continuing to support our church financially during this time. You have been faithful in sending in your offerings through the mail even as you have not been able to attend, again thank you.
Finally, I want to mention the ministry of Celebrate Recovery which is being hosted by Ebenezer this year. This is a ministry offering support and encouragement to those with ‘hurts, hang-ups, or habits’. With the stresses of life upon us, getting with a group to be encouraged and supported may be just what you need. Call Joel Gunderson at 701-314-1889 for more information or simply show up on Tuesday evening at 6:30 (starting September 15th).
As the apostle Paul often ended his letters to the churches I leave you with his words, “Grace be with you all”.