Below are words I shared with our staff on Wednesday, April 1st. I was moved by Psalm 23 this week. It is my prayer that David's words speak to you, too.
Psalm 23 Common English Bible (CEB)
A psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff-
they protect me.
These words from David allow my heart and spirit a pause from the day or the news to grab the overall picture of this Psalm. We spend so much of our time leading. We spend so much of our time answering phone calls. We spend so much of our time preparing to feed others. Our days are filled with finding creative ways of ministering to our families, our church, and our community, and it is easy to lose the depth of our own need for a shepherd, a guide, or a leader. When I read the first verse last night, again, the Holy Spirit bridged the gap between my own leadership to God's leadership. The Lord is my shepherd. He is your shepherd. We lack nothing. Things are changing and evolving around us, but we know that our shepherd will lead us along the right paths, to restful waters, and will keep us alive in him. I am praying for each of you and your families.
Today (April 3rd) is the first day of a statewide "safer at home" order. The City of Jacksonville's "safer at home" order goes into effect tonight. This is a mandatory order. We love our neighbor by following it. The governor's order is 30 days. It possibly ends on May 1st. There is a good possibility that the release from this order will be gradual, in order to continue the safety of our communities.
For many, we have practiced social distancing and other safety measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19. As we continue to love our neighbor, it is critical for us to play a significant role in slowing the spread of this virus. The measures put in place are helping to slow the spread and flatten the curve, but the increase in new cases and deaths reveal there is still more work to be done.
The work is not over and requires us to ramp up our efforts. We will continue to worship online. You will notice on Sunday that our worship will come from our homes. As a worship team, we desire the intimate connection by worshiping with you in our homes. We also take the "safer at home" order very seriously. We will continue to practice safe practices to ensure safety. Our campus will be closed to all activities until further notice. It will be a slow return to on-campus activities. All staff are working from home. We are still available and love you all.
Please know we understand that this is a difficult time. We understand that it is hard for all of you. We are praying for you.
This week, we felt the financial weight of the difficulty. We knew that our giving would decrease because of not being together. We are short about $24,000. Our giving sustains the ministries, the staff, and the church. There are several ways you can give. We are still receiving mail. You can mail your tithe. There are many people giving by text. Text "LUMCJAX" to 73256. It is an easy step-by-step process. You can visit our website at www.lakewoodumc.com and go to "Giving" on the home page. You can setup a one-time gift or a recurring gift. The other way is to utilize your bank and setup your giving there.
In this together,