Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, NRSV
When I was at university spring semester sophomore year, I had to take a course in differential equations. I felt I had a good grasp of college calculus for the first three semesters, but once I started differential equations, I encountered a subject that I understood in principle but could not master in practice. I say this because as a family of faith at the Ramapo Reformed Church, we also have one large differential equation, i.e. the pandemic, with which we have been wrestling since March. We know many of the parameters and conditions of the situation. Yet the challenge is not merely trying to define and solve the equation, but to determine the proper steps we will need to take in order to do so along the way. We have already taken several such steps and made progress, but we are still working towards a solution and trying to determine what should be next.
We began and will continue with pre-recorded weekly worship services that have been posted on our website since mid-March. We added outdoor worship on Tuesday nights for August and September. In October we are looking to continue outdoor worship, but now on Sunday mornings at 10:30 with the same parameters (weather permitting in the backyard, wear a mask, bring your own chair, sit apart, etc.) What happens with worship in November, however, has yet to be finalized. We are also resuming soup and wreath orders for curbside pick-up and have included order forms for both in this mailing. Also, consider joining us via Zoom for a DVD Bible Study on Tuesdays in October and November. Taking a cue from the current election cycle, we plan to conduct our next consistory election via mail. A suggestion form for deacons and elders for consistory to consider is also included. Finally, enclosed is the October calendar with suggestions on how to celebrate each day of this beautiful month.
As the Apostle Paul referenced in the scripture above, this Covid-inspired journey upon which we have embarked (without our asking) is a marathon and not a sprint. We must run in a way so that we may all win it together. We are grateful for everyone’s support, patience, and encouragement, and we look forward to the day, whenever that may be, when we can gather once again in God’s house together. May God’s grace fill you with hope and joy in the coming months ahead and continue to bless you on our shared journey of faith.
Anchored in the past, sharing Christ’s message today, and growing in faith into the future
[David] said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.” – 1 Samuel 24:6
It is time for summer, and I am not sure what to write. What source of inspiration is valid for this unique and challenging situation in which we find ourselves? Nevertheless, I contend there is always cause for hope. Throughout the Bible, people of faith have been pushed to their limits, and often, they have responded in ways which others may have not. For example, David and his men once hid in a series of caves in a remote portion of Israel while on the run from King Saul, his father-in-law who wanted to hunt him down and kill him out of jealousy. Saul’s army came close to catching David when Saul, alone at the time, just happened to enter the very same cave where David was hiding (read all about it in 1 Samuel 24!). David’s advisors urged their captain to take advantage of this gift of Saul’s undefended presence, but David refused. Instead, David snuck up and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. Soon after, David confronted his pursuer and made it clear how he could have taken Saul’s life but did not, for he knew it was not right in the eyes of God. This was a turning point for Saul, who now realized the folly of his endeavor and recognized that God was with David. Saul then promised David he would no longer seek to harm him. From that time on, the standing of David increased while the reign of Saul diminished. Thus as it was for David and for us still today, it can be the little decisions of faithfulness that can make a big difference.
During this summer unlike any other, may we continue to seek to make good decisions, both large and small, that honor God. Also in the midst of our schedules and obligations, may we still find times of rest and renewal as summers are intended to provide. Please join us on-line at ramaporeformedchurch.org for worship and updates on how we, as a family of faith at the Ramapo Reformed Church, may continue to stay connected even during these times when we are finding ourselves to be apart.
Anchored in the past - Sharing Christ’s message today - Growing in faith into the future!
No matter what time of year it is, dead of winter with the snow blowing all around, or heat of summer with the air heavy with moisture, our lives continue to unfold and time never seems to stand still. Sometimes it feels like life is passing us by and we worry because there isn’t enough time to get everything done. Yet at other times, we worry because there is free time and we must therefore not be doing enough. And there always seem to be difficulties of one kind or another that pop up out of nowhere. Rarely, it seems, are we satisfied that life is just as it is meant to be. The question is, then, do we focus on the worry and the problems, or do we accept that they are there and focus, instead, on the things in our lives that are fun, loving, and joyous?
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story about weeds and wheat growing together in the field (Mt 13:24-30). The farmer had planted the wheat, but then an enemy had come along and planted the weeds. The farmer’s helpers want to pull the weeds, but the farmer will not let them, because the wheat might be harmed. It is better to error on the side of protecting the wheat, the farmer says, rather than on getting rid of the weeds. The farmer’s choice is to wait until the harvest and then to sort things out.
If we think of this in terms of God being the farmer, and us being the wheat, the message is that God loves us too much to risk harming us at this point in time by getting rid of all our problems. That may not make sense, but it seems to be true. Agriculturists say that one way to have fewer weeds in a garden, or field, is to have healthier plants. And plants grow healthier with more sun, fertilizer, and water. We, too, can help lessen the impact of the weeds in our lives by growing healthier, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Spending more time with God, through prayer, bible reading, and worship will help us shift our focus away from the weeds and more towards the wonderful things in our lives. The weeds will never completely go away in this life, and sometimes they will be more numerous than at other times, but our lives will be better, because our focus is on the positive and not on the negative.
If we can help you on your journey at all, please do not hesitate to call or to visit us on Sunday mornings.
Anchored in the past, sharing Christ’s message today, and growing in faith into the future.