Over the past month or so I have been reading the works of St. Augustine, the theologian whose writings have heavily influenced Western Christianity. While studying some of his works I happened upon a concept I knew nothing about. Augustine talks at length about the Four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Four Cardinal Virtues… What makes them of grave importance? I don’t yet have Augustine’s answer, but I do have my suspicions. When I do, I will be sure and share my finds. I do know that Augustine connects them to what is known as the Three Theological Virtues: faith, hope, and love. That’s a lot of virtues, or concepts of virtue I know little about. I will begin a three part sermon series titled “The Essentials” in the coming weeks. In each of the sermons we will explore one of the Three Theological Virtues, asking how and why they are absolutely necessary for the Christian life. Before we get there, we have two important Sundays coming up: the Day of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. Pentecost Sunday comes fifty days after Easter Sunday. It symbolizes for us a new beginning. The day we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, which, in turn, has empowered the church to reach the world with the good news of the gospel - Jesus Christ lives! On Pentecost Sunday the church expresses its gratitude for the faithfulness of Jesus in fulfilling his promise to send to us the “Great Counselor,” which is a descriptive title for the Holy Spirit. We also celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit in renewing all of creation and prompting the church to fulfill its mission. Next, it is Trinity Sunday. On Trinity Sunday, the church revels in the mystery, power, and beauty of the triune God. It is big Sunday because we acknowledge that all three persons of the Trinity exist together from eternity to eternity. That is to say, Trinity Sunday is all about the wonderful mystery of the triune God who created us, redeemed us, and loves us. I am excited about the next five weeks and I hope you are too.
Also, the Health Team has been meeting regularly to discuss all the steps that need to take place in order for the church to be ready for in-person worship. There are many things to consider and the Health Team is talking through each and every item to prepare a thorough plan. The plan is not complete, but good progress has been made. We hope in the coming weeks we will have all the details sorted out. As you are aware, things change so quickly that we need to remain adaptable. As we learn more, the Health Team will adapt and amend the plan to meet all safety and health guidelines. Please help me in thanking the Health Team and our Session for leading us through these difficult times. If you are on the phone with someone or emailing with a member of either group, consider thanking, encouraging, and praying for them.
The Worship Committee has also been meeting to plan out how in-person worship will work once we do resume in-person worship. They, too, have a comprehensive list of items that will impact our corporate worship experience. When, in-person worship resumes, (and we don’t yet have a timeline), many things will change. The worship service will look different. It will sound different. And it will feel different. That is because it will be different. But being different is not a bad thing. Being different means new, exciting, and inventive things will happen. We will have to work especially hard to worship in our current world context. We will continue to be the church. When we join together to praise and worship God we are the church. I am thankful to say FUPC has remained the church throughout our virtual worship services together. I am confident we will remain the church as we slowly, and when appropriate, draw together for in-person worship. Please help me in thanking the Worship Committee for diligently considering all aspects of worship. If you are on the phone with someone or emailing with a committee member, consider thanking, encouraging, and praying for them.
Finally, all the other church committees have been meeting to discuss church business. We have lots of exciting things going on! For example, the upstairs portion of the education wing getting plastered and painted. The church roof is being repaired. The Christian Education Committee is producing weekly lessons for the children of the church. There are multiple Adult Bible studies happening right now. I could go on and on…
I want to end by saying thank you to FUPC. You are dedicated to the Christian faith and your testimony reaches well beyond the walls of the building that sits at 201 E. Church St., Collinsville, Illinois. Thank you for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world. I am so honored and delighted to join with you in your good works. I encourage you to continue supporting and praying for our leaders and one another as we move forward as the church in these ever-changing times.