Just Keep Picking Them Up and Putting Them Down

It is 6F degrees as I pen this letter. Skies are clear and the sun is supposed to shine on our fair city. The church office will open. This letter should be posted to about 800 families and chimp mailed to another 700 by early afternoon.

We have a motto at Covenant Church: "We never close."

Thirty-six years and the doors have been open every Sunday morning. There are churches in our community that if the forecast on Friday is for Sunday snow notice is given on TV stations that church doors will be closed, i.e., no services.

Do not waste time watching for Sunday cancellation of services at Covenant. If need be we will sleep [and have slept] in the church in order to shovel the walks and have the doors open.

One Sunday snow was two feet deep. Roads had not been cleared. Danny, our eldest son, and I cleared the walks and opened the doors. Time for worship came.

A medical doctor had worked a 28-hour shift and managed to get home. He looked at his teenage son and said: "I need to go to church." No vehicle had traveled the main road in front of the church. Dr. Harris and Joel, his son, walked two miles in the snow knowing the church doors would be open. Four of us worshipped that morning. It was a precious time together that leaves us with a cherished memory.

Keeping the church doors open is not about being tough or trying to make a statement. There is no desire to pressure folks to take unnecessary risks.

I confess that resolve to get to the public jobs I have worked in my life demands I give God the same duty. Being in church on Sunday is DNA.

In addition, there is the added value that good folks who are homebound, sick, physically challenged or who cannot travel are vicariously blessed knowing the church doors are open. More than once on a Sunday the church phone has rung and a person has said: "Pastor Bare, just wanted to know the doors are open and that you are there." (You may want to read the history of John Wesley when he found church doors locked).

Yes, it is cold. But cold will pass. In just a few weeks jonquils will signal Spring. The ground will thaw. The days will be longer. The temperature will moderate.

We are not waiting for the warm weather. Masons will finish. Steel will go up. The roof will be on. Classes will be taught. Sermons will be preached. Families will find strength in fellowship and service of the Body of Christ. We will reach out to persons in need. We will pray for the Holy Spirit to open doors for us to share the gospel message with lost souls. We will task ourselves with discipleship as we train leaders for ministry.

My parents and grandparents were farmers. Winter was not time off to sit by the fire. Winter was time to prepare tools and equipment, clear fields, repair storage areas for the harvest and make sure supplies were prepared for planting in the Spring.

My prayer is that a spiritual fire will burn in our hearts with an intensity to drive us as if Jesus should come today!

Please allow me to thank you for your patience with parking and traffic flow during construction. You have been wonderful. Our hope is that in the next few weeks we will be able to regain portions of parking lot fenced off for construction.

Remember this Sunday we begin a new series of Bible classes. If you have not yet taken the "Discover Your God-Given Gifts" class please call the church 434-973-5536 and indicate how many members of your family will be participating.

If you have taken the Gifts class, you have the option of choosing other wonderful classes: The Holy Spirit taught by Patsy Parks plus ongoing classes taught by Thurman Henry and Jack and Jean Griffin. The ministry of DivorceCare is also offered at this time.

Elders are leading in our capital fund drive. The goal is $200,000 in special giving for the building program. First, I am asking every parishioner to place a postcard of the building design in a prayer place at home, office or vehicle. Second, to daily pray for the Lord to use us as divine provision for the Kingdom. Third, think about stocks, bonds, IRA's, savings, gifts from sale of homes, properties, items (cars, boats, furniture, jewelry, etc). Prayerfully consider returning a portion of God’s blessing to Him.

By God's grace we will complete the building this year. When it is done there will be a great celebration.

Incidentally, just this last Sunday four families were exploring Covenant as a new home. We pray that our love for Jesus will be like a big magnet to draw precious souls into our fellowship.

Thank you for being part of the Covenant Family.

Much love

Pastor Bare