Email Messages from Pastor Brandon

Crosscreek in the Coming Weeks

3/16/2020

Dear Crosscreek Family,

It was quite the new experience to worship alongside you yesterday, with roughly half of you online and half in person. I appreciate the feedback we’ve received about the service and found joy in the fellowship in person and online. In fact, as of Monday afternoon, our video on Facebook of Sunday’s worship has reached almost 600 people! The goodness of God and the sweetness of God’s mercy and love were present and will remain present as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters together.

I want to update you about our currently planned course through those waters over the next couple of weeks. It remains paramount that we do what we can to love one another and our neighbor.  For the time being, it seems that the most clear path to doing that in a multigenerational and diverse community is through social distancing. 

To that end, we will not gather in person as a community for the next two weeks. All corporate, in-person gatherings will be held through alternate means at least through Sunday, March 29th. We will continue to evaluate as that date approaches, but this course of action is the surest way we have of being a force for good in Pelham and in the world at this time. It is, without a doubt, what Jesus would do. He was the Master of putting the good of others above the good of himself, and we will do our best to mirror him in this way.

However, just because we will not meet in person does not mean that we will not seek to be community to one another and the world. Here are a few of the ways that we will seek to foster community in a time of necessary physical isolation. They are all works in progress, and this list may change as we continue to move forward:

Sundays

  • A Godly Play lesson will be available on the church website and the church YouTube channel beginning Sunday, March 22nd. This will be something you can watch with the children before or after service (or whenever you see fit!) to help discuss and foster faith development among your family. You can find these on the website at www.crosscreekbaptist.org/gp_video. They will also be available on the church YouTube page. Children and parents alike will be blessed by spending this time together. 
  • The youth will be checking in and learning with one another via Zoom. Jessica will be contacting our youth with more information.
  • We are working to provide online Sunday school option(s) for adults. More information about this will be coming out in the next few days.
  • We will continue to livestream Sunday worship at 10:00 AM on Sunday, March 22 and Sunday, March 29. You can, once again, join us on Facebook during this time and be community to one another there in the comments. If, however, you are not on Facebook, you will be able to watch a livestream on our website at www.crosscreekbaptist.org/live or on our YouTube page. Both of these platforms provide the opportunity for community through comments and will make the services available for later viewing and sharing. 

Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

  • Crosscreek Connect – We will have a short video available on our website, YouTube, and Facebook page. These will be recorded by different folks and provide a ray of hope in these trying days. Feel free to comment on and share these videos so that we can use them as a launching point for community conversation.

Tuesdays

  • Our Deep Dive Bible Study on Tuesdays at 10:00 AM will be held using the application Zoom, a video conferencing app. This app will enable us to have group discussion as we continue through Exodus. Participants will be able to find chapters of Exodus online to download/print. These PDFs can be found at https://crosscreekbaptist.org/deep-dive-bible-study-2020/.
  • To join the Zoom meeting via computer or smartphone, go to https://zoom.us/j/120869434. The meeting number is 120 869 434. We will be able to see and hear one another on our smartphones or computers. 
  • You can also join the discussion by phone. To join the Zoom meeting in an audio only capacity, please dial 1 (253) 215-8782 and enter the meeting number 120 869 434.
  • If you are a regular attender of this Bible Study and able to do so, I would ask you to keep Buck Creek Coffee in mind if you are out during the week. We want to continue to support this business, so please stop by and grab a cup of coffee or a bagel to help support this local business.

Wednesdays

  • We will continue our Luke Bible Study online. We will go live on YouTube at 6 PM on Wednesday. We will discuss a portion of Luke’s gospel together through the video and commenting on the video. We will conclude our discussion at 6:30 PM. For those unavailable for the live portion, the recorded video will be available on the Crosscreek website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.
  • We will have a children’s activity or video to help families work together to build their faith during this time. It will also be available through all of our channels. More information about this will be communicated in the coming days.
  • The youth will hold a Zoom bible study and mid week check-in. Jessica will be contacting our youth with more information.

The goal in all of these efforts is to give us a place to connect to one another each day. We can work together to choose connectedness over isolation, hope over despair, and peace over anxiety. You can participate in as many of these offerings as you want, but there is no pressure to participate in them all. I hope you will utilize them to grow spiritually, to share them with friends and family who need hope, and work to stay connected to your Crosscreek family during this time.

As always, I hold you in my prayers. You are a sure sign of the goodness of God in my life and to the community around us. If you need to talk to someone during this time (or anytime), feel free to call me. 

Love,

Pastor Brandon

P.S. – Our Lenten devotional is also online at http://bit.ly/CBCLentDevo2020.

Update on Worship for March 15, 2020

3/14/2020

Dear Crosscreek Family,

We find ourselves today in the middle of Lent. I love the season of Lent, it pushes us to a space of introspection and penance. It helps us remember the horror and dismay that Jesus went through, even as we find ourselves now in a time of dismay and seeming despair. When we enter Lent with intentionality, it makes the call and response of Easter all that more sweet. “He is risen!” we call out. “He is risen indeed!” we respond.  

That is still true. We worship a good God who is alive and at work in the world. Jesus is risen and remains risen, now and forever! His Spirit dwells among us and in us and enlivens us to the goodness of our God in the world even now, even as COVID-19 now lives among us. This is the nature of an increasingly interconnected world. We will not seek to place blame for the spread of this virus, but must acknowledge this reality. 

This reality will shape the way we function as Crosscreek Baptist in the coming days and weeks. Today, I want to share with you how it will affect us this Sunday, March 15, 2020 and how we have arrived at the courses of action we will undertake. Despite its length, please take time to read this email so that you can understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.

In my lifetime, this is an unprecedented experience. My pastoral colleagues and I were not trained to deal with anything of this sort. It is, however, unwarranted hubris to think that the time we are living in is worse than other times in human history. There are always challenges that give humans the opportunity to rise and grow as a species. As followers of the Way of Jesus, these challenging times also give us the opportunity to learn and grow and share God’s love in new ways. I am certain that Crosscreek will rise to this opportunity and work together to foster the love of God in the way we treat each other and the world.

There is already circulating a false narrative that implies that changing or limiting our communal gatherings is comparable to living in fear and doubting the goodness of God. It is, I repeat, a false narrative. The way of following Jesus is intractably linked to the way we care for one another. This is why when asked how to gain eternal life, Jesus commends to the rich man the set of commandments that deal with human to human interactions and then further instructions on building community with the poor (Mark 10:17-22). This is why Jesus teaches that he recognizes those followers who care for their fellow humans as the inheritors of God’s kingdom. In fact, he sites the care for the sick as one of the ways his followers are recognized (Matthew 25:31-46). 

It is an equally false narrative to assume this time of crisis is ordained by God. Ours is a God who comes alongside us in our suffering and eschews easy answers that only lead those suffering to feel more isolated. Jesus will not easily assign the suffering of others to the will of God or their presumed inferior spiritual lives (Luke 13:1-5).

As people of faith, let us not fall into the easy answers of these two false narratives. We will not live in fear. We know that God is good and loving. God has given us the gift of community and told us to care for it. God has also given us brains capable of scientific reasoning to determine the best courses of action.  We will not be reactionary. We will, however, be intentional in the way we approach this time. We will do our part to love our neighbors to the best of our ability through a reasoned approach.

With this intentionality in mind, and finding a third way in the midst of false narratives, here is our plan for this Sunday, March 15, 2020. We will still gather together as a community of faith to worship God at 10:00 AM. Some will gather, as usual, in our physical sanctuary. Others, will join us online as a digital part of our community. The important thing is that we will still be together as a community of faith, worshiping the God who loves us and will never forsake us. 

Online Worship:

  • Beginning this Sunday, we will livestream our worship services. 
  • You can find the live service on our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/CrosscreekBaptist.
  • We are also working to make the service available on our website at www.crosscreekbaptist.org/live. This will help those who are not on Facebook still be able to participate.
  • Please bear with us and give us feedback for the online offerings. We are learning alongside you and appreciate your help figuring out how to best use technology to help us stay connected.

Online Giving: As always, you can give to Crosscreek even when you are not able to attend. A link to Give Online can be found in the top right corner of our website (www.crosscreekbaptist.org) or your can simply go to http://bit.ly/CBCGiving and use the portal for tithes and offerings to Crosscreek.

In Person Worship:

  • Sunday Schools, Youth, Godly Play, Preschool, and Nursery will not be held. 
  • We will not have our customary donut and coffee fellowship time.
  • Changes to the Worship Service
    • We will not hug, shake hands, or speak closely to each other before, during, or after worship. We will remember the beautiful hugs of times past.
    • Please utilize the spaciousness of our sanctuary to spread out and experience a new vantage point during worship.
    • All children will sit with their families during worship. There will be no nursery or preschool care. 
    • We will practice Passing the Peace to one another without contact.
    • The Tithes and Offering will be taken up at the back of the sanctuary after worship, so that we are not passing plates to one another.
    • If you are experiencing symptoms of illness, have been around a person who is, or are in an at-risk group and uncomfortable attending worship, please stay home. We will be offering our services online and would love for you to participate in this way.

I will be sending another update tomorrow or Monday to discuss the ways that we will work to foster community over the coming days even as we take steps to help curb this burgeoning epidemic.I know that Crosscreek is fully capable of maintaining hope in this time of fear and darkness and caring well for our neighbors by being proactive and intentional about being a part of the force of good in stopping the spread of this virus.

By God’s mercy, may we maintain a sense of community in a time where some isolation is necessary. I will do whatever I can for you and with you to help that happen.

Love,

Pastor Brandon