Beautiful day. Pleasant. Sunny. Light breeze.

What a good day to enjoy and reflect on the blessing of being in worship yesterday. There are misguided people who profess they have "church" at home, on headphones, in their car, walking in a forest, watching TV, etc.

Church is community. Body. Coming together. By definition "Church" is the gathering of the saints to celebrate the death, resurrection and hopeful soon return of Jesus Christ.

Church is high. Higher than a monastic or hermetic experience. Church is the combined joy of an eclectic gathering of saints who love community. Church is motion, mission and ministry.

Ah, I love the Church. Yes, I love the Church. Being together with others who have denied themselves, taken up their cross and are following Jesus is the highest of human experience. No hobby, no wealth, no athletic event, no adventure...NOTHING can meet the deep and vibrating joy of community worship.

We give Christ our lives. Having given him our lives we give him all that we have to bless the Church, His Body.

In corporate worship the soul is freed to soar on wings of praise. Voices lifted in song press away cares of the world. Angels hover and marvel at the mystery of our faith. Selfishness is buried in recognition of service to each other.

We free ourselves from our pride and love of things to see the greater cause of exalting Jesus.

I celebrate July 4 as honoring the beginning of an effort of a disjointed group of colonists seeking freedom from the mightiest military on earth. Core issues were a desire for religious freedom and not to be taxed without representation. I thank God for America and take pride in our national flag.

In the liberty of political freedom I rejoice for the freedom of spirit and soul. Christ at Calvary bought our freedom from sin. He paid a price to free us from hell's tentacles. Political freedom is temporary. Freedom of the cross is permanent.

I love the people of Covenant. Corporate. Ministry-focused.

Ministry-driven. Committed. Bigger than our walls. Bigger than our individual native cultures. Bigger than our color or native country. We are One in Christ. Mission-hearted.

Monday I was in the church office. Meng Biazon is retired from work at the University of Virginia. He lends a hand for the beauty of our facilities. Today his smile was exceptional. I saw him in the hallway and motioned for him to come and sit with me.

Did not need to pry out of him the story. He had gone to the

Philippines with Evelyn, his wife. He rejoiced to see family, but ministry was on his mind. He met Christian brothers. They began having a Bible study. From the Bible study one was called to ministry. The ministry grew to reach a local jail.

Evelyn inherited a piece of land. The need to minister to prisoners who had been released from jail became obvious. Evelyn agreed that a building could be put on her property. In a few days seven former prisoners will form the first group to meet in the sheltered place and develop an accountability group.

Such is the Kingdom. Evelyn, Meng and others sent funds to construct the building. They asked for nothing. Only want to celebrate.

I do celebrate. It is Monday. I am celebrating good people who have big hearts. Good people of Covenant Family who reach out to touch God's world with the touch of Christ.

FINISH of the church construction is certain. We are steadily completing the safety issues necessary for "Occupancy Permit".

We are excited for what God is going to do.

We are family celebrating living in a country that grants freedom of religion. We are family celebrating freedom in Christ!

Much love

Pastor Bare

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." Gal. 6:14

P.S. Dr. Linda Baluga, Jamie Baluga, Chris & May Chappell and team are safely home from Philippines missionary trip.

Liz and Wayne Duley continue to serve in Dominican Republic.

Covenant Church