Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,

6 ‘I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’  II Samuel 7:6-7 NIV

God is giving directions to Nathan. Tell David I do not need the building right now, I am happy with my tent. Like David we construct buildings, but God does not command us to do that. Instead, God insists that we come into God’s presence in worship and wants us to gather as the people of God.

Buildings do help us assemble, but there are now other ways to gather. Live streaming and online devotionals can also bring us together in worship. I will admit that I do not find online worship as meaningful or joyful as in person worship, but I have been lifted into the presence of God and experienced the joy of seeing and hearing other people in online worship.

We have helped more people experience the presence of God and the wonders of Christian community through livestreaming the worship service and the church’s online devotionals. We received 125 views for the October 7th online devotional. We had thirty-five views of the October 3rd worship service in addition to the twenty-four who attended in-person.

I know that one objection to livestreaming is that it competes with the in-person service. The statistics of October 3rd and our other worship services indicate that is not a problem. The Sundays that we have low in-person attendance are also Sundays that have low online viewership. The Sundays that have high in-person attendance also see higher online participation. I would not say that livestreaming increases attendance, but it does not appear to decrease it.

I know that we are nervous because attendance has dropped since the Covid pandemic started. This attendance drop is occurring in almost every church in this country. In these anxious times, we must remember that Christ has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We must remain faithful to Christ’s call.

Christ is calling us to witness to him in every way that we can. When people see cars in church parking lots, it reminds them that Christ is present in that church. When people see familiar names participating in online worship, they recognize that Christ is calling them to follow him.

The most effective witness to Christ is not in-person worship or online viewership, it is showing the love of Christ to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. When you take the time to listen to a troubled person, to visit with a sick person, or bring a meal to an overwhelmed person, you demonstrate the love of Christ to that person. When this occurs, people want to come to your church because they know that the members of the church care.

So, whether worship takes place in a building or online is not as important as the witness of Christians in acts of love. When people see our love for each other and our love for the community, they want to join us in sharing and spreading that love. We become the church that Christ protects against the gates of hell.

Purple Gang was successful in its fourth session with over twenty children enjoying music, learning about the Ten Commandments, and having a snack. With the change of weather, the children were not as well-behaved, and we were not able to go to the park.

Confirmation Class continues October 17 at the Sunday School hour. We had an enjoyable session discussing salvation and comparing it to the promises made by ads for pain relief, clear skin, and other medical problems. We plan to take a break on the 24th. Our next class will be October 31.

I was happy that the online devotionals are successful. The online devotional will continue to occur on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. I hope that you will attend.

With the increase in Covid cases in our area as well as most of the country, I am strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated if they are not already. Remember that everyone who is fully vaccinated can enter without a mask so that we can keep everyone as safe as possible.

If you wish to mail a check, you can use the following address: First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 69, Schaller, Iowa 51053, or you can drop the check off at the State Bank of Schaller.

Please pray for our leaders. Pray for people in our community who have Covid. Pray for all who feel anxious or isolated. Pray for the western United States as they suffer from extreme drought and many fires. Pray for firefighters and other first responders who are facing fires. Pray for our community, our troops, and the various people on our prayer list. Pray for the other parts of the world and this nation which are also suffering from this pandemic.

May God bless and keep you,