Christ Our Hope in Life and Death

This Lord’s Day we will be singing this new hymn from Getty Music as we gather for worship. Based on Question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, this hymn celebrates the great truths of our faith. Take time to listen to Christ Our Hope in Life and Death as we prepare to sing it together on the Lord’s Day.

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death
Words and Music by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, Matt Papa. CCL# 11359088

What is our hope in life and death?
Christ alone, Christ alone.
What is our only confidence?
That our souls to Him belong.

Who holds our days within His hand?
What comes, apart from His command?
And what will keep us to the end?
The love of Christ, in which we stand.

[Chorus] O sing hallelujah! Our hope springs eternal;
O sing hallelujah! Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death.

What truth can calm the troubled soul?
God is good, God is good.
Where is His grace and goodness known?
In our great Redeemer’s blood.

Who holds our faith when fears arise?
Who stands above the stormy trial?
Who sends the waves that bring us nigh
Unto the shore, the rock of Christ? [Chorus]

Unto the grave, what shall we sing?
“Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!”
And what reward will heaven bring?
Everlasting life with Him.

There we will rise to meet the Lord,
Then sin and death will be destroyed,
And we will feast in endless joy,
When Christ is ours forevermore. [Chorus]

Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart

This Lord’s Day we will be singing this new hymn from Red Mountain Music as we gather for worship. This old text from John Newton has been set to a new tune. Take time to listen to Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart as we prepare to sing it together on the Lord’s Day.

Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart
Words: John Newton, Music: Wendell Kimbrough, © 2005 Red Mountain Music, CCL# 11359088

Pensive, doubting, fearful heart, hear what Christ the Savior says;
Every word should joy impart, change thy mourning into praise.
Yes, He speaks and speaks to thee, may He help thee to believe;
Then thou presently will see, thou has little cause to grieve.

Fear thou not, nor be ashamed; all thy sorrows soon shall end,
I, who heaven and earth have framed, am thy Husband and thy Friend;
I the High and Holy One, Israel’s God, by all adored,
As thy Savior will be known, thy Redeemer and thy Lord.

For a moment I withdrew, and thy heart was filled with pain;
But my mercies I’ll renew; thou shall soon rejoice again;
Though I seem to hide my face, very soon my wrath shall cease;
‘Tis but for a moment’s space, ending in eternal peace.

Though afflicted, tempest tossed, comfortless awhile thou art,
Do not think thou can be lost, thou art graven on my heart;
All thy wastes I will repair; thou shalt be rebuilt anew;
And in thee it shall appear what the God of love can do.

Good Friday Gathering

Join us for a Good Friday Gathering of Songs and Readings, Friday April 2, 2021 at 6:00 pm on the grounds of the Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.   We will gather outside around the bonfire for food, fellowship, and a time of songs and readings to observe Good Friday. Bring your favorite Mediterranean food or dessert. Click here to get the Readings and Hymns. We look forward to seeing you.

We Will Feast!

This Lord’s Day we will be learning an new hymn, “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” from Sandra McCracken’s Psalms project. Take time to listen to this hymn as you prepare for the Lord’s Day.

We Will Feast in the House of Zion

Words & Music: Sandra McCracken and Joshua Moore,  © 2015 Drink Your Tea (ASCAP) / Joshmooreownsthis Music (ASCAP)CCL# 11359088

Chorus
We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more

We will not be burned by the fire
He is the LORD our God
We are not consumed, by the flood
Upheld, protected, gathered up (Chorus)

In the dark of night, before the dawn
My soul, be not afraid
For the promised morning, oh how long?
Oh God of Jacob, be my strength (Chorus)

Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed
You are the Faithful one
And from the garden to the grave
Bind us together, bring shalom. (Chorus)

Sing to the Lord a New Song

This Lord’s Day we will be learning an old hymn which is new to us. This arrangement of Anne Steele’s “Come All Ye Pining” comes from Red Mountain Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Take time to listen to this hymn as you prepare for the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Table.

Come All Ye Pining

Words: Anne Steele. Music: Brian Murphy. CCL# 11359088

Lord, we adore Thy boundless grace,
The heights and depths unknown,
Of pardon, life, and joy, and peace,
In Thy Beloved Son.

Refrain:
Come, all ye pining, hungry, poor,
The Savior’s bounty taste;
Behold a never-failing store
For every willing guest.


O wondrous gifts of love divine,
Dear Source of every good;
Jesus, in Thee what glories shine!
How rich Thy flowing blood! (Refrain)

Here shall your numerous wants receive
A free, a full supply;
He has unmeasured bliss to give,
And joys that never die. (Refrain)

Photo by Ebuen Clemente Jr on Unsplash

Welcome Back!

We resumed “in-person” worship as of May 31, 2020. But our gatherings will are a little different as we exercise love and care for one another through social distancing.    So, we wanted to let you know what to expect as we resume.

Please note that we will begin worship at 10:30 am.  This is earlier than our 10:45 am start time before we moved to live stream only.   Announcements will start at 10:20 am and the service will begin at 10:30 am.   We will NOT meet for Bible Study before worship until at least September 2020.

Some of you expressed through our survey that you are not comfortable resuming.   For some this was because of restrictions related to your work.  For others it was due to your own health vulnerabilities or those of loved ones to whom you provide care.   The Session wants to stress that, while gathering with others for worship is fundamental to Christian discipleship, there are times when this must be balanced by our duties and responsibilities to others.  

If you need more time before returning due to your concerns and/or commitments, continue to join us by live stream and plan to return as soon as practicable.   We have invested in the technology necessary to continue live streaming from now on.  Going forward, this will be an option for those unable to attend in-person.

Let me say the same thing for those who have been sick.  If you have had a fever within the last 48 hours, or have had symptoms of any respiratory illness, or have had contact with someone COVID-19 positive within the last two weeks, please stay home and join us via live stream.  Furthermore, if you have experienced any type of contagious illness and have been recently symptomatic, please stay home.  

Just as those who must stay home are exercising caution and concern for others, those who return must also exercise caution and concern for others.   As we gather, we will practice social distancing and we must not express judgment toward others.    Just as we are warned in regards to the Lord’s Table to examine ourselves, let us restrict our examination regarding resuming and social distancing to ourselves as well.  

Below are a few things you need to know about social distancing for those who resume.

  • As you arrive, please enter in an orderly and distanced fashion.  Parents take care to keep your children with you as you enter and exit and as you find a seat.   Someone will be at the door to greet you and assist you with a low-touch entry.
  • We will have hand-sanitizer available at every entry and in the restrooms.  
  • If you feel comfortable wearing a mask, please do so.   The use of cloth masks is a courtesy and benefit to others.   While they may not protect you from illness, they will protect others from illnesses you may have, even if you are not showing symptoms.   Most of you indicated that wearing a mask was an important factor in your comfort in returning.   So, let me encourage you to wear a mask as much as you are able.  
  • We will not be able to provide masks.  If you do not have a mask, please contact me and I will find one for you.
  • We ask that families to sit together. 
  • Please try to maintain a distance of 6 ft between family groups.   This can be accomplished by keeping one row of seating between you and others.
  • Orders of service, containing everything you need to participate in the liturgy, will be placed on each end of alternating rows of seats in order to limit “touch.”   These will also continue to be available online.
  • You may continue to give your tithes and offerings by mail or online.  We will also have a secure offering box by the door as you enter and exit.   Thank you for your faithful giving.
  • Our service will include singing, but it will be more limited than usual.  Each service will include two hymns and we will conclude the service with the doxology.  Admittedly, it is difficult to sing in a mask, but singing produces the greatest risk to airbourne exposure.  You are not required to wear a mask. But if you are unable to wear a mask while singing, please sit so that no one is closer than 16 feet directly in front of you.
  • Pastor Wheeler will wear a mask while outside of the pulpit, but will not wear it while leading the service.  For this reason, everyone will be asked to sit at least 16 feet from the pulpit.
  • Please avoid all physical contact with others.   You can greet each other with smiles and warm words, but not with a hug or a handshake.
  • You may enjoy in person fellowship outside before and after the gathering.   But even outside please limit contact and maintain distancing.
  • Refreshments and fellowship meals will not resume at present for our corporate gatherings. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Plans for Resuming In-Person Gatherings.

Beloved congregation, our Session met this week to consider plans to resume “in person” gatherings for worship.   We will resume no sooner than May 31, with the tentative plan of reopening on that date.  Between now and then we will be working to thoroughly clean and sanitize our facilities and prepare for livestreaming for those who need to exercise more caution about returning.  We will not resume small group Bible study at this time.   The Session will meet again on May 26 to confirm this date for resuming “in person” services.  With that said, I want to speak to two aspects of our plans to resume.  

The first aspect is regarding to those who are torn between concerns for their health or the health of others and the biblical command to gather for worship.   A friend and colleague, Rev. Rob Patrick addressed this concern very well in a recent article to his congregation.

Is it essential for Christians to meet together for worship on the Lord’s Day? A global pandemic and resulting restrictions on “mass gatherings” has led to much discussion of that question, and related questions on the authority of the civil government to regulate gatherings for worship. Leaving aside issues of civil liberty and authority, the question of the essentiality of gathering for worship remains important.

A portion of Hebrews 10:19-26 is helpful in examining two aspects of this question. The first aspect is the access Christians have to God’s throne of grace, at any time and in any place.  Hebrews 10:19-22 speaks of the intercession of our great high priest, Jesus, in whom Christians have access to God, and are even brought before His throne of grace, whenever and wherever we call out to Him in Jesus’ name! Christ’s blood and righteousness have secured this access. Jesus is at the right hand of His Father, interceding on our behalf. Whether we are at church, at home, in exile, or prison, our prayers and worship are received by Him!

But what about gathering?  Hebrews 10:23-25 addresses the second aspect of our question, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Spiritual access to the presence of God anywhere at anytime through the name, blood, and righteousness of Jesus doesn’t mean Christians no longer need to gather together. The promise of a coming day when we will be glorified together in the presence of God should fill us with desire to gather now, in anticipation of that day. As we gather, there is fellowship in Christ that encourages love and good works among God’s people through our shared ministry.

When it comes to the essentiality of gathering for worship, these verses remind us that God commands our gathering for worship. Unless providentially hindered, there is something spiritually amiss when Christians intentionally absent themselves from public worship. It is for His glory and our common good that we must not neglect the assembly of the saints.

Yet there are occasions of providential hindrance. Sickness, our own or that of those for whom we care, works of necessity and mercy, and imprisonment are among the circumstances that may prevent one from gathering with others for worship. During this pandemic, increased risk of infection for the elderly or those with compromised immune systems are among the factors that may make it imprudent for some to gather for worship. In such circumstances of providential hindrance there is great blessing in knowing that we can still offer prayers and praise to God. In Jesus’ name we can worship in spirit and in truth before His throne, wherever we may be.

Even with the precautions and provisions outlined below for resuming “in person” gatherings for worship, those with good reason to remain home due to circumstances of health should have no crisis of conscience over doing so.  We pray that your continued faithful worship at home will only increase longing to gather with the Lord’s people when it is again prudent to do so! May we say with David, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord!”

These words offer a helpful perspective regarding biblical balance in navigating both the command to gather and care for one another.  This biblical balance also governs those who return.  A faithful expression of corporate worship is one that has concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others.   Paul’s introductory statements regarding the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:17ff make this clear.  

To that end, please find below guidance from our Session regarding how we may faithfully resume “in person” corporate worship while exercising Christian prudence and concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others.

  1. We will continue to live stream our service for those who need to be more cautious about gathering in person.
  2. If you are sick or exhibiting symptoms of illness, or have had fever within 24 hours, or have had contact with any Covid-19 positive individuals within 14 days, please remain home and join us for worship through the livestream.
  3. For those able to resume “in person” gathering:
    1. We will have hand-sanitizer available at every entry and in the restrooms.  
    2. If you feel comfortable wearing a mask, we encourage you to do so.   The use of cloth masks are a courtesy and benefit to others.   While they may not protect you from illness, they will protect others from illnesses you may have, even if you are not showing symptoms.
    3. We encourage families to sit together. 
    4. Please try to maintain a distance of 6 ft between family groups.   This can be accomplished by keeping one row of seating between you and others.
    5. Orders of service, containing everything you need to participate in the liturgy, will be placed on each end of alternating rows of seats in order to limit “touch.”   These will continue to be available online before the service as well, and we may be able to project them.
  4. You may enjoy in person fellowship outside before and after the gathering, but please limit contact and maintain distancing when inside our gathering spaces.
  5. You may continue to give your tithes and offerings by mail or online.  We will also have a secure offering box by the door as you enter and exit.   Thank you for faithful giving.
  6. Refreshments and fellowship meals will not resume at present for our corporate gatherings.  The Session will continue to evaluate when this is advisable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact one of the elders.

In Christ, Pastor Wheeler

Update on Resuming “In-Person” Gatherings.

We will NOT be meeting “in-person” at the church this Lord’s Day, May 10, 2020, but will continue to meet this Lord’s Day, as we have, via Facebook Live at 10:30 am.   

Our Session will meet Tuesday, May 12, to review our plans and procedures for resuming in-person gatherings, both for worship and for smaller groups, such as Bible study.  Please pray for your elders as we meet.

We will consider what must happen before we reopen, what cleaning must be done, what our procedures will need to be implemented for social distancing, and what aspects of worship will be affected by contact precautions.  

Furthermore, we are also working to be technically ready to continue live streaming from the sanctuary, for those who need to be more cautious about returning. 

This past Monday, May 4, Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson released “guidance” regarding the resumption of “in-person” gatherings for Houses of Worship and other large venues.  This guidance encourages churches resuming “in-person” gatherings, to practice some measure of social distancing.  Here is a link to the Governor’s recommendations.

It is important to note, as did the Governor, that this is just guidance.  While we are not bound by it, it is reasonable guidance and will not be considered lightly.  

Our move to on-line worship was not required by or in response to any directive from our civil magistrates.  We, as a Session, elected to do this out of Christian prudence and a responsibility to properly care for one another.  (See citation from the ARP Directory of Public Worship below)  We will seek to continue to respond in a way that provides the best spiritual and physical care of our congregation.

If you have questions, concerns or comments, please speak to me or one of the elders as we prepare to meet next Tuesday. We are thankful for God’s favor to provide for and protect our congregation during this time.  We pray for wisdom as we continue to grow in His grace together.

In Christ, Pastor Wheeler

Certain matters or circumstances concerning worship have not been fixed by a definite rule in the Holy Scriptures, such as the order of worship which is to be followed, the appointed time or place for the gathering of God’s people…. In such matters or circumstances, the church must be guided by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.  The service of worship shall be under the authority of the minister and the session.  

ARP Directory for Public Worship, II.3, 5.

COVID-19 Survival Guide

Featured

In the exercise of Christian prudence and in response to calls for social distancing, our elders have decided to limit our corporate gatherings to online only. Below is a quick reference guide of links for you to use as we live life together as a church, online, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

  1. We will gather at 10:30 am via Facebook Live.  This stream will be simulcast both to our Pottsville ARP Facebook page.   If there are technical issues or if you are not on Facebook, the video will be posted on YouTube for later viewing.
  2. The service will be simple.   We will have a call to worship and response, I will lead us through our confession of sin, assurance of pardon, and confession of faith.  Then we will share a time of teaching.  Our service will conclude with a pastoral prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and then the Benediction.
  3. Each week we will post a full order of service which also includes the lyrics to some of the songs included on the YouTube playlist.   You may listen to these or sing them together in your home gathering.  We will not sing them together via the live stream.
  4. Continue your giving by giving online or for other options go to the Giving link on our website.  
  5. Pray for one another and check in with one another via phone, text, email, social media and even cards and letters.