Dear Church Family,
As we head into the Easter weekend, here are three special announcements for the whole church that I would like to bring to your attention.
1. Good Friday Communion Service
Tomorrow (Friday, April 14th) we will have our annual Good Friday Communion Service at 7:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Please join us as we remember the crucifixion of our Savior and Lord.
2. Easter Sunday Service in the Newly Renovated Sanctuary
In 2011, our church purchased our building recognizing that renovations would need to be made. The Lord blessed our church in such a way that we were able to purchase the building without going into debt, and additional monies were provided for future renovations. We are grateful for the Lord’s provision and the generosity of His people, particularly for two members of our congregation who provided over half of the funds needed for the purchase and renovation.
From the start, the session designated Elder Greg Berkhouse to lead the process of the renovation, and Deacon Ray Jones has overseen many of the projects and updates along the way. The original renovation team (Jerry Walton, Brian Williams, LuAnn Gilmore, Carol Morgan) began to plan and work almost immediately. Several projects were completed, including the revamping of the heating and air-conditioning, as well as some of the electrical work.
For the sanctuary renovation, we are grateful for the labors of Elder Greg Berkhouse for his diligent planning and organizing of this final process, as well. Likewise, we give thanks for the hard work of the current renovation team that worked on the sanctuary (Rachel Berkhouse, LuAnn Gilmore, Steve Sredonavich, and Lorenzo Sanchez). Once the scope of the project was finally settled, Rachel and LuAnn took on the role of interior designers and looked at several sanctuaries for comparison, selected all of the colors, textures and furnishings, and worked closely with Steve and his crew to implement the work. Steve literally poured blood, sweat, and tears into this project as he directly supervised all of the work and put his own hand to much of it. Lorenzo lent his expertise in various matters (including building codes and materials and as a liaison with the city) and installed our new sound system.
As you will see on Sunday, they have done excellent work and many have noted that the process was smoother than expected. We praise God for his continued blessing in this whole process.
In our current sermon series in the book of Hebrews, we have recently noted that the worship of the new covenant is very different than that of the old covenant. Where old covenant worship was replete with sacrifices and rituals that were marked by great outward glory, the worship of the new covenant is to be simple and sublime (awe inspiring), in spirit and in truth, emphasizing the ordinary means of grace of the word, sacraments, and prayer.
In light of those things that we’ve learned from the book of Hebrews and our upcoming transition back into the newly renovated sanctuary, this is a good time to remind ourselves of the distinctiveness of corporate worship. The corporate worship of the church is different and distinct from all of our other activities: it is a meeting of the Triune God with His people. Because this worship includes both the God of all creation and His particular family (the body of Christ), we seek a balance of ‘familial reverence.’
So, in order to better foster this sense of familial reverence in our worship, here are a couple of things that the session of our church would like to communicate to the congregation:
(1) Please do not bring food or drink into the worship service (unless it is absolutely necessary that you need water).
(2) Please silence all electronic devices during the worship service.
(3) Parents, please make use of the new ‘cry room’ in the back of the sanctuary as needed (you will still be able to hear the service and participate in worship, while limiting distraction to your fellow worshippers).
3. Leavened Bread in the Lord’s Supper
On several occasions over the past year, the session has had some discussions about using leavened bread (instead of unleavened bread) in the Lord’s supper. Earlier this year, we decided to make this transition, and to have this transition coincide with our move back into the renovated sanctuary.
By way of a brief explanation, it should be noted that whether the bread in the Lord’s supper is leavened or unleavened, it is not an essential aspect of the Lord’s supper. Most likely, the bread that Christ used in the last supper was unleavened bread (according the tradition of the Passover); however, the Greek word that the Gospel writers used to describe that bread is not the specific word for unleavened bread, but the general word that simply refers to a loaf of bread. Thus, it doesn’t seem that the Gospel writers saw it as that important.
The session made this decision because leavened bread is the typical kind of bread that we commonly eat in our daily lives, and to most people it just tastes better. Also, though some have argued that leaven always represents sin in the Bible, that is not the case. In fact, Jesus illustrated the growth of the kingdom of heaven by comparing it to a woman who put leaven into a large quantity of flour until it permeated all of it (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21). Thus, we may view leavened bread as a symbol of our hope and prayer that the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, His church, would spread to all the world.
If you would like to read more on this topic I recommend the following two articles:
(1) “Does Scripture Demand Unleavened Bread in the Lord’s Supper?” by John S. Hammett
(2) “Must We Use Unleavened Bread in the Lord’s Supper?” by Andrew Webb (this second article provides many quotations from Reformed commentators on the topic)
This Sunday will be a wonderful day in the life of our church as we move back into our newly renovated sanctuary. We have talked about this project for many years and now, thanks to the Lord’s goodness and the gifts that He has given to many people for the accomplishment of this task, this Easter we will be worshipping in an updated sanctuary that will more closely match our theology of worship in its simplicity and sublime beauty.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Dietsch