Red

The color of passion and bull taunts, cherry flavored t-shirt stains and fall apples – now has become a somber mark for our county.  This past Wednesday, Wayne County reached red on Indiana’s Coronavirus Map, the highest advisory level attainable.  This advisory level translates to a hospital which is nearly maxed out, more Covid cases than we have had at any other time, and more tragic deaths.

We are now asking you and any who enters Central to wear a mask at ALL times throughout the building.  We are asking any who are sick or might be sick to stay home on Sunday morning and join via our livestream (found here on our webpage or on our Facebook page).  We will continue this for at least the next 2 weeks (until we have 2 straight weeks of being below red). We can do this to create gracious space in these hard times.

We are asking for prayer, constant prayer for the nurses, support staff, doctors, frontline workers…for the patients, the sick, the families, the isolated…for all of Wayne County and the world.  We are still fighting this all together.  If you or anyone you know is still unvaccinated, we will again be hosting the mobile vaccination unit at Noon this Sunday.

Let us remember that our call to follow Jesus is one which often brings us to love our neighbor in ways which where hitherto unimagined. Let us remember also how red points to that Holy Spirit fire which sustains in the unknown. Let us remember Jesus, red on the cross, who taught us true love bleeds.  Let us remember John’s words as we wrestle with the unknown, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  Let us have wisdom to walk in this light in this season.

 

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Joseph


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Devotional on Godliness

Passages from the Bible with references to running:

Isaiah 40:31 “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint.”

Hebrews 12: 1-2 “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Godliness from Paul’s letter to Timothy
1Timothy 4: 7-8
“… train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.“

The dictionary defines godliness as “being devout, denoting the piety which is characterized by a Godward focus, does that which is pleasing to him.“ To be godly involves keeping our focus on God, and seeking to do what is pleasing to him. But godliness doesn’t just happen. Paul tells Timothy to train himself to be godly. It takes work. And it requires that we let go of things that would hinder that training.

Many activities are promoted as being “good for us.“ But training in godliness is unlike any of them. No matter how many miles we run or bike in this life, it has no value in the life to come. But godliness does. Godliness trains not just the physical body, but the spirit as well. That training will have value for eternity and that makes training in godliness even more important. It is training that will make a lasting difference, even after one’s physical body is destroyed.

Training in godliness involves prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship. But it also involves choosing to make good decisions in life. Choosing to do what pleases God rather than self. Working to develop a more intimate relationship with Christ. Living in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s direction. Training is hard, and involves self sacrifice, but it is well worth it in the long run.

(1 Timothy4:7-8 in The Message: “Exercise daily in God. No spiritual flabbiness. Workouts in the gym are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so making you fit both today and forever.”)
 
Written by Eileen Cravens

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A Note from Pastor Joe

 
Dear Central,
 
This week we had our highest single day coronavirus case load.  Our prayers go out to our medical workers, support staff, teachers, factory workers, custodians, childcare workers, and all those who continue to go out to keep our world moving.  Prayers for all of you as you continue to navigate decisions, movements, gatherings – only now again with the pandemic again coming on strong. Again the psalms give us language for such a time as this, “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!”
 
The vaccination clinic we hosted had 27 people vaccinated last week! Let us further do our part this coming Sunday to make sure we create space for all to rest and worship.  We ask you to mask this coming Sunday.  We will again be placing dividers in the pews to help us with distancing.  We will have further opportunities to love our neighbor during worship.  We will be taking up an offering to come alongside our neighborhood school – Vaile.  They lost a grant which provided snacks for all of their students and we have been asked to help out.  Our prayers continue with the Hebrews, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
 
I know many of us have much weighing us down, but God is not finished yet.  There are many days ahead to carry Jesus to our fellow sinners.  There are many days ahead to rejoice in God’s love as the light pierces the darkness.  There are many days ahead to take everything to God in prayer.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 
May we all find that peace.  Keep on shining your light Central.
 
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Joseph

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Coronavirus and Central

Dear Central Family, 

Thank you for being so gracious this past year as we have wrestled with the pandemic. Like Esther, we may not like what has come up in our time, but Central has responded for such a time as this. Time and time again you loved your neighbors by creating the gracious space necessary for us to continue to operate.

The numbers on the renewed spread of the coronavirus are saddening. The Delta variant is 2-4 times more contagious than what we encountered prior. Our numbers in Wayne County are growing exponentially. Let us do our part in such a time as this. Please stay home if you in any way think you might be sick. Here are 3 additional ways Central can fight in this season.

  • Do Not Fear – Our God has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Though the numbers are rising, 99.99% of those vaccinated have not had a case resulting in hospitalization or death. Vaccination clinics are still available regularly and we will be hosting one on August 22nd and September 12th.
  • Masking –  Masking has been proven to mitigate the spread of many illnesses including the coronavirus.  We ask you to consider wearing a mask while moving around the building and singing. If our county goes to orange or red on the coronavirus.in.gov website, we will be asking all to wear a mask at all times until numbers decrease for 7 days or we go back to yellow.
  • Do not Judge – There are reasons people mask and vaccinate or do not mask or get vaccinated. Chronic Respiratory issues, desire to see people face to face, following recommendations, complications from vaccines, etc. Please listen well to those in our community who may act differently so we may all love alike.

 

Let us hold this tension. There are disciples of Jesus to be made. Let us love our neighbors in our every action without condemnation. We can find a way to fight the virus and still love well in our community together.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Joseph


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A Covid Update

Dear Central, my heart breaks looking at the news from around the world as the coronavirus has again surged forth. The Delta variant has wreaked havoc around the world and has recently arrived in our community.  The latest data show there are some break through cases (infections of those vaccinated) and that some of those infected and vaccinated can still spread the virus to others.  The CDC has again changed its recommendation back to wearing masks to combat this latest surge.  Still, we in Wayne County remain in the blue per Indiana’s Coronavirus website.  We pray this remains to be the case.

 

For now, we are not requiring masks to be on for worship.  We invite you to consider wearing a mask as you feel led.  If you have any symptoms, please take advantage of our livestream on Facebook and rest at home for worship.  If you have not yet been vaccinated, please consider attending one of the upcoming mobile clinics we are hosting on August 22 and September 12. 

 

I also ask respect for each other’s choices in this as we are all in this together.  We will continue to monitor this situation, so what we do this week may change next week. 

 

We are blessed to have people in our church who think differently in these matters and are trying to minister to the broadest spectrum while giving people the dignity of their own responsibility.  I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to the church of Rome, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

 

Let us continue in prayer for our world.  This is a hard time on top of over 16 months of a hard season. We are in this together, and by God’s grace, we will get through it.

In Christ,

Joseph


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The Truth Will Set You Free

Children have great imaginations. For years our son would retreat to his imaginary castle when emotions ran high. We loved the stories and imaginative space. We have not loved the ways children sometimes use this imagination to pass off imagined stories as truth.
 
Usually, some gaping hole in the tale reveals the mismatch between what happened and what was said.  If only the tales stopped then, what a world we would live in. For now, we are often tangled in a web of adult fancying.
 
Still, we have a power on our side.  Truth has this stubborn tendency to make itself known over time.  It always coheres together with other truths.  It always corresponds to reality.  Sometimes it only needs some way to be brought to the light.
 
That best light can be found in God’s word as a lamp unto our feet as we dance through life.  Or as John 8:32-33 puts it, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
May we all be so free to be really real this day.
 
Shalom,
Pastor Joseph

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A Brief Update

Dear Central,

It’s good to again be seeing so many of you in this liminal season as we leave the ‘normal’ of the pandemic and emerge to what’s next.  It is good to see so few cases in our county.  We received word this week we are no longer required to wear masks for the childcare.  We still support those who are immune compromised, unvaccinated or unable to be vaccinated to wear masks and will offer those at our welcome center.  Central, however, will no longer ask people to wear masks entering or moving about the building. 

Now that we can gather more freely, I hope to see and hear from you all this Sunday.  Much has changed.  This leads to the natural wondering of what is Central’s new normal? who is doing what now? what’s going on anymore? what’s next? etc.  After worship, I would like to offer the microphone to all of you to share, to ask, to wonder aloud as we discern together.  I am so excited for what I see God calling Central to in the coming years, but we must start where our feet are in this murky moment.

Finally, I can think of no better way to center ourselves in this time than to focus anew on Jesus.  Our sermon series throughout July will be focused on Jesus .  I would like to invite you all to join together in continuing this focusing on a daily basis by reading through all four gospels in the month of July.  On Sunday, we will be passing out bookmarks with the reading plan on the back side.  (If you are already in a reading plan, no worries.  Just tuck the bookmark away for when you have completed your current plan.) Discuss these passages in your weekly small group gathering with other Christians (or email me about joining one).  Let the good news wash over you this month as we prepare for what’s next. 

Together we can continue God’s good work, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phi 1:6)

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Joseph


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Continuing in Prayer

 
 
As we near the beginning of a new conference year, let us return to the core of our daily practices. Prayer. Prayer frees us, guides us, forms us, sustains us.  It is my prayer you all have amazing adventures in prayer every day as you turn to our Father. Here are a few prayers from our Christian Tradition to guide you to God this week…
 
 
 
The Covenant Prayer of John Wesley
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
 
The Breastplate of St Patrick
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
 

Prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you, 
Let nothing frighten you, 
All things are passing away: 
God never changes. 
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing; 
God alone suffices.
 
Jesus Prayer
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
 
A prayer from Paul
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
 

Prayer of Sadhu Sundar Singh

My Lord God, my all in all, life of my life and spirit of my spirit, look in mercy upon me and so fill me with Your Holy Spirit that my heart shall have no room for love of anything else but You. I seek from You no other gift but Yourself, who are the giver of life and all its blessings. From You I ask not for the world or its treasures, not yet for heaven even make request, but You alone do I desire and long for, and where You are, there is heaven. The hunger and thirst of this heart of mine can be satisfied only with You who has given it birth.

O Creator of mine: You have created my heart for Yourself and not for another, therefore this my heart can find no rest or ease save in You, in You who has both created it and set in it this very longing for rest. Take away then from my heart all that is opposed to You and enter and abide and rule forever, Amen.


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