A Letter from 3/16
We are in awe of your resilience, prayerful dependence, deep love for others, and creative ways of connecting with God during this season. Even though we can’t gather on Sundays right now, we are here for you as pastors. We spent all morning planning and praying for wisdom. We’ve landed on a tentative plan for the next few weeks. It’s focused on three things–small group gatherings, helping you encounter God in daily life, and loving the most vulnerable in our city.
How will we gather together for corporate worship this month?
We are grateful for all who tuned in on Sunday for our online message. For the rest of this month, we will be leading an online service at 10am on Sundays. This week we’ll launch a new series on The Lord’s Prayer, focusing on the opening verse where Jesus invites us into the power of knowing God as our Heavenly Father.
This week will include a 25-minute message, with questions for reflection and discussion, alongside liturgy, worship, and resources for kids. You can tune in through our Facebook page or our YouTube channel).
Our goal is to equip you for a worship service as a small group in your home. This gathering could be with some friends, your family, or a few people from your Redemption Community.
Some Notes on Gathering
We encourage you to gather in ways that are responsible.
- The White House and CDC now advise not gathering in groups larger than 10 people.
- If you are over 60 years-old or have a weak or compromised immune system, medical professionals strongly recommend you stay home.
- If you are sick, stay home.
- For those who gather, please follow our “Protocols for Small Group Gatherings” (listed here, and included at the bottom of this email).
- For those unable to gather in person, we strongly recommend trying to connect through technology. We were not made to live isolated or alone. You can chat with others on Facebook while watching the sermon together online; you can discuss the reflection questions afterwards with others through FaceTime or Skype; you can call a friend to discuss what God’s teaching you in this season and to pray together over the phone.
- If you are able to gather, consider offering to connect those who might be unable to join you in-person through a computer or your phone, where they can digitally join your discussion afterwards.
How can we encounter God in our daily lives during this restrictive season?
Over the next few weeks, as our normal rhythms and routines are disrupted, we have a beautiful opportunity to press deeper into some aspects of life that have been largely suppressed in Western society such as long conversations, solitude, extended time with family, music, spiritual disciplines, etc. We want to help you re-imagine this time of restriction as a “Spontaneous Sabbath,” a time to press deeper into your relationship with God, others, and the overlooked aspects of his world. We will be doing that in a few ways.
Spontaneous Sabbath Livestream: Starting tomorrow, one of our pastors will go on Facebook Live each day at 3:00 pm to provide practical ideas and worshipful reflection to help focus our time during this season of restriction.
Prayer Walks: Our pastors will be leading prayer walks in different parts of the city each day. These walks will include instructions about social distancing, will be limited to 8 people, will include a few conversation questions, and will finish with a time of praying through the Lord’s Prayer together. After reviewing the options, this seems to be a good way to connect, because this fits within the CDC recommendations and our phone call with the governor’s office suggested that outdoor gathering could be better. By Wednesday, you will be able to sign up to join these prayer walks by going to our website.
Praying the Lord’s Prayer Together: We are creating a prayer guide to help you use the Lord’s Prayer to pray three times per day. We suggest 8:00am, 1:00pm, and 7:00pm. Even though we can’t physically be together in the same place, we can be together at the same time as we call out to God in prayer.
Creating and Curating Resources: We will be providing helpful resources for following Jesus in this season. For example, we have created these hand washing prayers which you can pray as you wash your hands. These will turn a mundane moment into an opportunity to worship and it will ensure that you wash your hands for at least 30 seconds. Let us know if there are other resources that would be helpful.
How will we care for those in need?
There are two ways we can love our neighbor in this season. First, and most important, is “omissionary love.” In other words, we have the opportunity to love our neighbors by what we OMIT from our lives. For example, we can love our neighbor by not leaving the house when we are sick, not organizing large gatherings, not shaking hands, etc. In most seasons of life, love compels us to action. But, in this strange season, our inactivity could save lives.
However, there may be some tangible ways to serve the most vulnerable in our city right now. We have created a form for those in need, and those available to serve. If you fall into either category, please sign up for help, or to help, here. Furthermore, we are currently in conversations with the City of Tempe regarding opportunities to care for the vulnerable in our community. We have created this page on our website which will have the links to help or be helped as well as other resources for you during this time.
We love you, Redemption, and look forward to following Jesus together during this season. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can be praying for you.
Jim Mullins and Josh Butler, Lead Pastors of Redemption Tempe
PROTOCOLS FOR SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS
If you are over 60 years old, or have a weak or compromised immune system, medical professionals strongly recommend you stay home. For those who do gather, we ask that you abide by the following protocols:
1. No one present is sick or has any reason to think they have been exposed to COVID-19. If anyone is sick or has reason to think they have been exposed, they should stay home and not attend your group.
2. Shared surfaces are disinfected before and after the meeting.
3. Everyone washes their hands thoroughly (more than 20 seconds) upon arrival and upon returning to their home.
4. Food and drink are served individually, rather than in a shared “potluck style” format.
5. As much distance as possible is maintained between members of your gathering. (This means spread out the seating arrangements, at a larger distance than will probably feel natural to most people).
Looking to find out more tips on online gatherings? Click here to read our latest blog post from our Pastor of Communities John Crawford