Mar 272020
 

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,

make known his deeds among the peoples.

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

tell of all his wonderful works.

Glory in his holy name;

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Seek the LORD and his strength;

seek his presence continually.

Remember the wonderful works he has done,

his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,

O offspring of his servant Abraham,

children of Jacob, his chosen ones. (Psalm 105:1–6)

These are the opening lines to Psalm 105 (if you find yourself with a few extra minutes on your hands, you may want to read it in its entirety) and much like our own services of worship, these few verses function as a call to worship. Specifically, the psalmist calls her community to remember and respond – to remember what God has done and to respond by joyfully sharing the good things that have happened. As you might imagine, the rest of the psalm is a joy-filled reflection on the history of the people beginning with Abraham and culminating with Moses’ liberation of the people from Egypt.

I think the psalmist is on to something here – it’s good practice to remember what God has done and it’s also good practice to share with one another what God has done. So playing the role of psalmist, I invite you to go to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nwpres/) and post a comment or picture of how you have experienced God in the past few days/weeks – nothing lengthy, just a quick snapshot of the good things that God has been doing. Then, periodically peruse the post from our friends and family here to find an encouraging thought, an uplifting word, and inspiring picture.

Today, we remember that even though times are strange and even though we are apart, God is still at work and we are still a family of faith. With the psalmist, let us remember and respond!

Updates

  1. At this time, there are still no confirmed cases of this virus in Wilkes County, but we remain vigilant in doing our part to prevent its spread.
  2. Due to the high level of internet traffic at the 11 o’clock hour, Session has approved the temporary shift in our worship time to 10:00. Our live-streamed worship service will be available at 10:00 and can be accessed on our website.
  3. If you begin to feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), please do not go to the hospital. Instead, healthcare workers are directing people to contact the Health Department (651-7450) to set up an appointment for a drive-up test, after which, individuals should remain self-quarantined until the test results come back.
  4. Continue to pray for those in our community in the deepest need and if you hear of community needs, please let us know by calling the office.
  5. 5. Keep up to date with the latest information by visiting our website or Facebook page.

Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and may God’s peace be with you all.                      -rc

Mar 262020
 

Although it has been inconvenient for us to be apart during our Sunday morning worship hour, it is good to have the capability of offering our services via live-stream through our church website (www.nwpres.org). While this has worked well for some, it has been difficult for others. As you might imagine, many churches have made the same arrangements: canceling in-person service in favor of live-streaming options. The sheer volume of people streaming services at 11:00 on Sundays has broken the internet!

Therefore, due to the high volume of people streaming their worship services at the 11 o’clock hour, Session has decided to temporarily shift our live-streamed services to 10:00am, beginning this Sunday, March 29 until the time we are able to meet together again. Our hope is to avoid the 11am worship logjam so that more people will be able to access our services without interruption. You can continue to access our services through our website (www.nwpres.org) and our services will continue to be archived (so if you miss a service, you can still participate at a later time). Thank you for your understanding, stay safe, and may God’s peace be with you all.

 

Mar 262020
 

Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.” (Exodus 1:6–22)

This is one of my favorite stories in all the Bible. On the one hand, it’s a story about God’s justice; that is, the way that God would have the world work. In God’s kingdom, there is no oppressing our neighbor. In God’s kingdom, there is no embittering one another’s lives In God’s kingdom, there is no fearing of the other.

But it’s also a story about how anyone, even the “least of these” (even you and me), can make a GINORMOUS difference to bring about God’s kingdom. These two Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are the heroines of the story – pure outsiders of the Egyptian regime: they are women; they are servants/slaves; they are Hebrews. Although they have no power in the Egyptian political system, they continue to work for the good of God’s kingdom. Although they are pressured by the pharaoh himself, they remain strong to the work that God has set before them.

We too can continue our good work for the good of God’s kingdom and we too can remain strong in the face of pressure. Our greatest ministry to each other and to our community at this time is: to prevent the spread of this disease, to remain attentive to the needs of others, and to look forward in hope for the dawning of a new day when our efforts will be rewarded with a joyful reunion of family and friends.

Updates

  1. In accordance with Federal, State, and Local declarations and taking into account the best practices from other countries fighting this global pandemic, we have decided to extend the closure of our building and the cancelation of all programming in our building through at least Sunday, May 10.
  2. Due to the high level of internet traffic at the 11 o’clock hour, Session has approved the temporary shift in our worship time to 10:00. Our live-streamed worship service will be available at 10:00 and can be accessed on our website.
  3. At this time, there are still no confirmed cases of this virus in Wilkes County, but we remain vigilant in doing our part to prevent its spread.
  4. If you begin to feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), please do not go to the hospital. Instead, healthcare workers are directing people to contact the Health Department (651-7450) to set up an appointment for a drive-up test, after which, individuals should remain self-quarantined until the test results come back.
  5. As a reminder, we have some foodstuffs in the office to hand out should you know of people who are in need or if you yourself have need of it.
  6. Continue to pray for those in our community in the deepest need and if you hear of community needs, please let us know by calling the office.
  7. You may want to utilize the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for devotional reading – you can access the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/yearbook/
  8. Keep up to date with the latest information by visiting our website or Facebook page.

Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and may God’s peace be with you all.                      -rc

Mar 252020
 

Give ear to my words, O LORD;

give heed to my sighing.

Listen to the sound of my cry,

my King and my God,

for to you I pray.

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;

in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch . . .

. . . But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

so that those who love your name may exult in you.

For you bless the righteous, O LORD;

you cover them with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:1–3, 11–12)

Today, the psalmist gets up out of bed and things are not looking so good; she already seems to know what the day will bring and she cries out to God in the midst of her sighing. It’s as if she knows that what she will be facing this day will be difficult, perhaps even too difficult to bear. So she begs God, pleads with God, to hear her, to listen to her, to respond to her and in so doing, she lets us all in on one of the worst kept secrets: that life is hard. So the psalmist’s first inclination of the day as her feet hit the floor is to cry out to God.

I think there’s something liberating about this; there’s something freeing about claiming that we are needy creatures – that we need God, that we need one another, that we don’t have to pretend like we’ve got everything together all the time. But perhaps the most liberating news of all – for the psalmist and for us – is that we all profess our need trusting, expecting, even knowing that God’s strength will keep us going. This is good news – for the psalmist and for us – during challenging times. So let us take our cues from the psalmist who begins her day professing her own need and her reliance on God’s strength, knowing that God will be there.

Updates

  1. In accordance with Federal, State, and Local declarations and taking into account the best practices from other countries fighting this global pandemic, we have decided to extend the closure of our building and the cancelation of all programming in our building through at least Sunday, May 10.
  2. At this time, there are still no confirmed cases of this virus in Wilkes County, but we remain vigilant in doing our part to prevent its spread.
  3. If you begin to feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), please do not go to the hospital. Instead, healthcare workers are directing people to contact the Health Department (651-7450) to set up an appointment for a drive-up test, after which, individuals should remain self-quarantined until the test results come back.
  4. As a reminder, we have some foodstuffs in the office to hand out should you know of people who are in need or if you yourself have need of it.
  5. Continue to pray for those in our community in the deepest need and if you hear of community needs, please let us know by calling the office.
  6. You may want to utilize the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for devotional reading – you can access the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/yearbook/
  7. Keep up to date with the latest information by visiting our website or Facebook page.

Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and may God’s peace be with you all.                      -rc

Mar 242020
 

In accordance with Federal, State, and Local declarations and taking into account the best practices from other countries fighting this global pandemic, we have decided to extend the closure of our building and the cancellation of all programming in our building through at least Sunday, May 10. We will continue to live-stream our Sunday morning worship services during this time and while we know that many have experienced issues with this service, we are working with our service provider to fix these problems and we are exploring other live-streaming options as well. While this arrangement is not ideal for us, we appreciate your patience and understanding.

Mar 242020
 

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way – and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:1–10)

Sometimes I think we get lost in the magnitude of the miraculous: the great crowd, the seven loaves, the breadly blessing, and the baskets full of leftovers. It’s a magnificent story . . . but what strikes me is that no one seems to marvel at the miracle. The people ate their share, the story ends abruptly, and Jesus and his friends simply move on – no questions asked, no teaching taught, no nothing nowhere.

It seems to me that the miraculous oftentimes pulls our attention away from that which truly matters. In this case, if we focus too greatly on the magnitude of the miraculous, we may miss what life could look like in God’s economy In God’s economy, there is enough for everyone and everyone always finds enough . . . with baskets full to spare. In God’s economy, there is abundance . . . not only of grace and mercy and love, but of fish and loaves and food as well. In God’s economy, there is togetherness . . . God’s grace and goodies are shared with this crowd and then God’s grace and goodies are shared with the next town over.

It is good to see our family of faith pulling together even when we cannot be together and it is good to know that God’s grace and mercy and love flows in and through us . . . now we pray for God’s fish and loaves and food to be made available to everyone in need.

Updates

  1. In accordance with Federal, State, and Local declarations and taking into account the best practices from other countries fighting this global pandemic, we have decided to extend the closure of our building and the cancelation of all programming in our building through at least Sunday, May 10.
  2. We will continue to live-stream our Sunday morning worship services during and while we know many have experienced issues with this service, we are working with our service provider to fix these problems and we are exploring other live-streaming options as well.
  3. At this time, there are still no confirmed cases of this virus in Wilkes County, but we remain vigilant in doing our part to prevent its spread.
  4. If you begin to feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), please do not go to the hospital. Instead, healthcare workers are directing people to contact the Health Department (651-7450) to set up an appointment for a drive-up test, after which, individuals should remain self-quarantined until the test results come back.
  5. As a reminder, we have some foodstuffs in the office to hand out should you know of people who are in need or if you yourself have need of it.
  6. Continue to pray for those in our community in the deepest need and if you hear of community needs, please let us know by calling the office.
  7. You may want to utilize the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for devotional reading – you can access the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/yearbook/
  8. Keep up to date with the latest information by visiting our website and Facebook page.

Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and may God’s peace be with you all.                      -rc

Mar 192020
 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then it was said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us,

and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears

reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping,

bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,

carrying their sheaves. (Psalm 126)

In Psalm 126, the psalmist sings of memory and expectation. She remembers what is was like when God set things right, when God “restored the fortunes of Zion” (v. 1). There was dreaming and laughing and shouts of joy so much so that all the nations looked upon Israel and testified to the gracious works of God: “’The LORD has done great things for them,’” declared the nations (v. 2). And so the psalmist reminds the people: “The LORD has done great things for us” (v. 3).

These memories of God’s gracious acts are so important for the psalmist . . . because the psalmist and her community find themselves in challenging times. These memories lead the psalmist and her community to prayerfully petition for God’s grace once more, commanding God to act graciously again, expecting God to act graciously again. “Restore our fortunes [now, as you have done in the past],” declares the psalmist (v. 4). “Restore our fortunes” (v. 4) so that those who are mired in sorrow will rejoice once more, so that those who weep, will return with shouts of joy again.

Let us join with the psalmist and remember the good things God has done for us and let us join together in eager expectation that God’s grace will abound once more. Thanks be to God.

Updates

  1. We continue to remain safe and secure, but as always, should you get sick, please let us know so that we can care for you.
  2. We will continue to host live-streamed worship services on Sunday mornings at 11am and our service provider has assured us that we will not experience the same issues we did last week.
  3. As a reminder, we have some foodstuffs in the office to hand out should know of people who are in need or if you yourself have need of it.
  4. Continue to pray for those in our community in the deepest need and if you hear of community needs, please let us know by calling the office.
  5. You may want to utilize the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for devotional reading – you can access the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/yearbook/

Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and may God’s peace be with you all.                      -rc

Mar 182020
 

When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” Pharaoh and his servants were pleased. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.’ You are further charged to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'”

The sons of Israel did so. Joseph gave them wagons according to the instruction of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. To each one of them he gave a set of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of garments. To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Do not quarrel along the way.”

So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive! He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt.” He was stunned; he could not believe them. But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die.” (Genesis 45:16–28)

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and they told their father (Israel) that Joseph had died. But now, after years and years, decades and decades, Israel is getting the news that Joseph is very much alive. Of course, after years and years, decades and decades, Israel is slow to accept the word of his sons . . . but then it hits him and his spirit is revived. “Enough!,” he interrupts. “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die” (v. 28).

At its core, this is a story of longing: longing for family, longing to be reconnected, longing for life together. It’s not unlike our own story now. We too have our own longings: for normalcy, for togetherness, for our community to be made well. So I imagine that when everything settles down and when our doors swing open, we will have our own longings met, just like Israel.

Updates

  1. We continue to remain safe and secure. Should you get sick, please let us know so that we can care for you.
  2. We have worked with our live-streaming service provider (who were totally unprepared to handle the overwhelming use of their services by so many congregations in the area this past Sunday). They have told us that they are working to makes sure that the same issues do not arise this upcoming weekend and beyond.
  3. We have some foodstuffs in the office to hand out should know of people who are in need or if you yourself have need of it.
  4. While there is no immediate need for assistance, please pray for those in our community in the deepest need and if you hear of community needs, please let us know by calling the office.
  5. You may want to utilize the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for devotional reading – you can access the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/yearbook/

Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and may God’s peace be with you all.                      -rc

Mar 172020
 

I will bless the LORD at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD;

let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me,

and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me,

and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:1–4)

These are the opening lines of Psalm 34 in which the psalmist calls her community to bless the LORD at all times! – in good times and in challenging circumstances. It’s a remarkable call to exalt God’s name together, as a unified people of faith. But the purpose of the psalm appears to be this: blessing the LORD, praising the LORD, boasting in the LORD, magnifying the LORD, and exalting the name of the LORD – all of this is done as an act of remembrance. When we offer God praise, we remember that God responds . . . and when we remember that God responds, our fears are relieved. So wherever you are, let us bless the LORD at all times together.

Updates

  1. As of right now, we continue to remain safe and secure. Should you get sick, please let us know so that we can care for you.
  2. We have some foodstuffs in the office to hand out should know of people who are in need or if you yourself have need of it.
  3. Schools have started breakfast and lunch service for food insecure children. While there is no immediate need for assistance, please pray for those in our community in the deepest need.
  4. Just as a reminder, all programming has been cancelled until at least April 1. For this week, this includes the JubiLENT Lenten Lunch series, Wednesday morning Prayer Group, Kirk Night dinner and activities, as well as our Thursbyterian service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
  5. You may want to utilize the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for devotional reading – you can access the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/yearbook/

Although our doors may be closed, but our hearts remain open to each other and to our community. May God’s peace be with you all.             -rc

Mar 162020
 

We are indeed venturing into an unknown future together: global pandemic, states of emergency at the national, state, and local levels, and too many questions to answer, too much confusion to contain, too much uncertainty to make predictions about when this will all end. But we are in this together – church and chapel, congregation and session and staff. So here are some important items of information for you as we journey together through this uncharted territory:

First, we are cancelling all programming at North Wilkesboro Presbyterian Church (including our Wilkesboro Chapel campus) until at least April 1 – there will be no Youth programming, no Kirk Night, no Kingdom Kids, no in-person committee meetings, no Scouts, no programming until at least April 1. Session reserves the right to extend these cancellations in order to prevent the further spread of this vicious virus, especially as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has just issued new recommendations about large group gatherings.

These cancellations include our Sunday morning worship services. We will continue to live-stream our services through our website and are currently working with our provider to fix the problems that many experienced yesterday. In addition, because Easter is right around the corner, we will be purchasing two large Easter Lilies and if you would like to contribute to those arrangements in honor or in memory of someone, please contact the office.

Even though we will be closing our doors to regularly scheduled programming, we are still in need of you and your prayers and your tithes and offerings. Please pray for the uncertainty of these times and the safety of this community. Please support the mission work that is being done through this congregation in any way you can. And please continue to send your gifts through the mail, through our online system, or stop by the office and bring your offering envelope (if you call us when you get here, we’ll even come out to greet you!).

Second, we are a caring congregation . . . but for us to care for one another, we need you to keep us informed about what is going on in your homes, in your neighborhoods, in your neck of the woods. Simply call the office (336-667-1288) or email Melinda (Melinda.goforth@nwpres.org) or R.C. (rc.griffin@nwpres.org) to keep us in the loop. If you are or get sick, please stay at home. If you are or get sick, let us know so that we can provide assistance. And if you are or get sick (and you’ve let us know), you can expect a call from me – Session has recommended that I refrain from doing in-person visits at this time in order to prevent the exponential spread of this virus, but know that I will be there with you as I can.

Finally, we’d simply like to remind everyone to stay safe and stay informed. Although social distancing is awkward and unusual for us, at this time it is a critical step in slowing down the spread of this sickness. As preventative measures, if at all possible: do not venture out into crowded places, maintain a distance of at least six feet away from people, refrain from shaking hands and hugging (I know, this is a tough one for this church family), make every effort to keep your hands away from your face, and wash your hands regularly.

In addition, stay informed. To learn more about COVID-19, you access the CDC website here: www.cdc.gov. If you’d like to learn more about the local response here in Wilkes County, you can access their website here: www.wilkescounty.net. And we ask that you stay informed about matters pertinent to the church and chapel through our website (www.nwpres.org) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nwpres/).

We are indeed journeying into uncharted territory, but we go together and we go with God. Thank you for your time, your consideration, and your understanding and may God’s peace be with you all.

rc