News And Updates

1-11-21 Update Letter #46 from Pastor Nate Phillips

by Pastor Nate Phillips on January 12, 2021

January 11, 2021
Dear Kirk family,
Once again, I write to you with the noise of great national disruption playing in the background. Our lives seem to be like an old black and white television turned to channel three, awash with the sound of static.
It is a static created from a crowd of voices that all want to lay claim to control.
I suppose it has always been this way, but it seems that we hear the voices on the far ends of the ideological spectrum getting traction and owning the static more than ever before. In fact, “inflammatory” has somehow become the default posture of so much of our rhetoric and, as it is, as we tolerate it, as we contribute to it, we will be led away from love and community and toward isolation and violence.
I’ve appreciated Beth Moore’s perspective on current issues,
“As long as what’s Right or Left is more important to professing Christians than what is right or wrong in light of Jesus, we are doomed to present a caricature of Him to the world. Christ is neither left nor right nor is He centrist. God seated him ‘far above all rule & authority.’”
This has long been the challenge for the people of God - recognizing, admitting, establishing, and proclaiming that God has laid claim to control.
As I said on Sunday in sermonizing on the story of when Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, met Simeon in the Temple,
“Grace.
Grace was around the corner.
It was around the corner for the holy family.
It is around the corner for us in this ‘in between’ time.
And Grace is in control.”
The work we do as a church should always be to offer a visible witness to that reality, to put hands and feet on that higher ideal. 
This is what we were trying to do when we gathered for our prayer service on Thursday night. The pastors gathered with the choir in the Kirk sanctuary to remind one another and offer a reminder to the community that God’s grace is in control. If you missed it, I invite you to take some time with that prayer service sometime this week.
Please join me tonight at 7 p.m. over Zoom for a sermon “talk back” on Sunday’s sermon and my reflection from last Thursday. Join here.
Note: If you are prompted to enter a passcode, it’s “Kirk” with capital K.
We do the best we can to try to establish that reality, not just in worship, but in every facet of our way of being community. Accent Pontiac offers a concrete example of that. The difficult life circumstances that many of AP students face, are not in ultimate control, God is. I am happy to share that students are back at it! Virtual music classes resumed last week after a break for the holidays. Accent Pontiac students will be performing and leading activities TONIGHT at a virtual event hosted by the Pontiac United Education Coalition, sharing their love for music and leadership skills with other students across the Pontiac Community.
We are reinforcing God’s sovereignty in the work we do in mission, too. Bob Heuer, Bob O’Hara, Dick Morris, and Bob Libcke deliver up to 25 boxes of food from Focus Hope to a senior apartment complex once a month. The Kirk Tutors and Accent Pontiac are building strong relationships with the kids they work with and we have seen evidence of God at work as we've delivered Lighthouse food boxes to their families during this pandemic, building closer relationships with their parents and grandparents.
Let’s face it. The feeling of being “out of control” has really worn us down over the last ten months. We have felt it in leading the church too. It is so tough to be separate from all of you - and, yet, we have wanted to make the best decisions we could make in order to keep our church healthy. To that end, I am glad to share that our Covid response team has agreed to move us from Phase 2 to Phase 3 following next week’s holiday weekend.  
Beginning January 24, we will be open for worship in Cedarholm chapel at 8 a.m. and the Kirk sanctuary at 10 a.m. We will continue to have our online, prerecorded service at 9 a.m. and the radio at 11 a.m. For the time being, we will continue to use the registration system that we used in November and Christmas Eve for our in-person services. Registration will open Monday, January 18, for the January 24 service.
I have a hunch that the static is going to get louder in the days to come. 
Some of that disruption will come from good people wrestling with concerns about our future as a country. They will disagree, often reasonably, about the best way forward on any variety of issues. 
But there are others - white supremacists, anti-semites, those prone to violence, and the generally self-absorbed - that are desperate for control. Some of them try to gain it with the cross of Christ in their hands.
But they are not in control.
Let us be a witness to that.
Let us renounce, resist, and deescalate the “inflammatory” in exchange for the way of Jesus. We do so as we find our Bibles, find a small group, find a way to help, and find an outlet to take on a servant’s heart … because grace is just around the corner.
Grace is in control.
Stay warm,
Pastor Nate 

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