Pastor Ashley Column November 5, 2020

My Dear Friends at Cornerstone,

Grace and peace to you from God, this day. On Tuesday, I read the following from another Pastor I know:

*inhale*

“The Lord is our refuge and strength”

*exhale*

“A very present help in trouble”

It reminded me of our first Zoom service, where we used this response to read the words of Psalm 46 together. I would encourage you to go back and read this Psalm today. In Psalm 46, we hear the Psalmist proclaim the truth that regardless of what might come, God will be our: refuge, strength, and very present help. So often, we can end up tokenizing Scripture. What do I mean by that? Well, by tokenize, I mean that we have a Scripture printed on a shirt, tattooed on our arm, or hung in our home and, while the words are comforting or encouraging, we forget to let those words actually sink to the deep places of our souls. We don’t always let them truly transform the way we live. What does it really mean for you that God is our refuge and our strength? How does it change your outlook when the Psalmist reminds us that because God is our refuge and strength, we need not fear, even though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea? Change, turbulence, shaking, trembling: these are fitting words for 2020. Don’t allow the words of this Psalm to just be something you read or say but let them sink deep into your soul: God is our refuge and strength, throughout time God has been the refuge and strength for all of God’s people. Through famine and plague, war and peace, unrest and stability, in all the many things this world and the church has been through, God is the refuge. God is the strength. Right now, God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.

Now, we might identify the “trouble” differently, but we gather our hearts together knowing that God is our refuge and our strength. The trouble may be election anxiety, uncertainty about the future, the weight of COVID stress, the hard situations our church has been navigating, or something else. But I want to urge us to remember this: that at this time and in this season, we first and foremost need the Lord as our strength and refuge, AND we need one another. We need to show up to hard conversations with grace, curiosity, and hope. We can do really do this, because the Lord is our strength and makes this possible. We need to lean into the truth that we are a church family. That means caring for the vulnerable in our community, praying for one another, coming together in the highs and the lows, and making the decision that come what may, we will lift one another up as brothers and sisters. On our hardest days, we can do truly do this, because the Lord is our refuge and strength both individually and communally. We must remember and recognize this truth.

I remain steadfast in believing that God is alive and active in this community. Last week’s Zoom service was a celebration of the faithfulness of God. We joined for prayer, we lifted up those who passed into God’s care this year, we heard powerful words of testimony from Missy Kuester and Lorena Saxton, we rejoiced as our 3rd graders received Bibles and had a word spoken over them, we sang together, and we broke break together. We did these things together, as a family. So, I want to look forward to what is coming up in the next season for worship, the opportunities to engage in worship together even though we may be apart.

Here is a glimpse at our upcoming services through Advent, including where you can access each service:

  • November 8th (on YouTube & Facebook) – “Moses’ Intercession” in Exodus 33:12-23; Pastor Ashley Creek
  • November 15th (on YouTube & Facebook) – “Missed Opportunity” in Numbers 13 & 14; Pastor Jerry Ableidinger
  • November 22nd (on YouTube & Facebook) – “Covenant Renewal” in Exodus 34; Rachel Dodd
  • November 29th (on YouTube & Facebook) – First Sunday of Advent
  • December 6th (Service On Zoom) – Testimonies in Advent & Communion
  • December 13th (on YouTube & Facebook) – Cornerstone Christmas Pageant
  • December 20th (on YouTube & Facebook) – Fourth Sunday of Advent
  • December 27th (Service On Zoom) – Christmas Worship!

Additionally, Christmas is upon us and we are excited to be offering a variety of unique and safe opportunities this Christmas. Above, you’ve already seen some plans for Advent, including our Christmas Pageant on the 13th! Be sure to keep an eye out for more details from Mrs. Karen. For Christmas Eve, the Believe team was excited about how we could plan safe and special opportunities for worship together.

Here is the Christmas Eve Schedule:

  • Facebook Premieres of our Christmas Eve Service at 4 & 7 PM so you can watch at the same time as your church family (the service will also be uploaded to YouTube, in case these service times don’t work)
  • A special Christmas Eve Zoom service with carols and communion at 9 PM. The Zoom service is in addition to the Facebook/Youtube services and will be an opportunity to sing together, share in communion, and end the night with Silent Night by candlelight. This is a different service than the ones on Facebook and Youtube.
  • We are also preparing Christmas Eve kits that you will be able to pick up at the church on December 20th. More details to come.

You will be able to celebrate Christmas at home from wherever you are this year. Together, as a church family, we will join our hears for worship virtually, knowing that God connects us in Spirit. We will remember the night in which Jesus was born, alone with only his parents, in a stable in their hometown. Though it will be different than usual, we do believe that God will move within our Church family this Christmas season and in these upcoming Sundays. We pray that you will commit to this journey with us, as a family. May it be so, and may God bless this season for our church.

In Christ,

Pastor Ashley

ashley.skinner91@gmail.com Sign Up to Meet with Ashley: https://calendly.com/skinnera3/pastoral-meeting