Jesus Christ is the First and the Last,
he is worthy of our worship and praise
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31).
The two great commandments and two pastoral applications
First, thank you for adjusting to our new service schedule (9:30 and 11:10). The extra ten minutes between services free us to love God and one another with a bit more ease. Let me explain.
On Sunday mornings at Stone Hill, we want to allow time for God’s people to worship him with heart, soul, mind, and strength. We also want to allow time for meaningful fellowship with each other. And behind both of these goals is the physical movement required: parking, entering, moving around, leaving. Simply put, to love God and one another well on Sunday mornings, we need to allow adequate time for worship, Atrium fellowship, and safe parking transitions between services. That is why we have delayed the start time of our second service by 10 minutes.
In parallel, we are making some minor changes to our worship service in order to focus on what is most important. The changes involve things like combining the worship prayer with the pastoral prayer or balancing time allowances between music, choir, and Scripture reading. As I say, the changes are minor. Our central commitment to biblically rich, Christ-centered, and wholehearted worship remains intact.
Second, with the two great commandments in mind, let me address another pastoral matter. As you undoubtedly know, the US has entered an extremely contentious political season. For followers of Christ, our primary calling is to live in this age as citizens of the age to come. This means loving God and our neighbors, even those with whom we disagree. Easily said, but hard to carry off, especially in these days. That’s why your spiritual leaders have developed an eleven-week plan that will offer purpose, instruction, and prayer during the fall elections. Here are its three phases:
- General preparation: 8 weeks, from September 6 to November 1;
- Focused prayer and fasting: the week leading up to the election, November 1 through 8;
- Reception of the election results with faith, hope, and love: the 2 weeks between November 8 and 22.
Watch this column for more details.