Sunday’s Coming BUT Today is Good Friday (COVID-19 Edition)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

It’s Easter weekend and it’s when we remember and celebrate how Jesus paid the price for our sin. The season starts with celebration (Palm Sunday) and ends with celebration (Easter Sunday). What happens in the middle of the season, however, doesn’t always get the same attention as it should. Good Friday is when we stop and reflect on the price Jesus paid for all of us

Sunday is coming but today is Good Friday-covid-19-ed

I often hear, “It’s Good Friday, BUUUT Sunday is coming!”

Ever hear that? Ever say that yourself?

I don’t blame anyone for saying it or thinking that way, however, if that’s our focus, we usually miss the significance of Good Friday.

On top of that, in 2020, we’re experiencing a global pandemic (COVID-19), which is making for an Easter weekend no one is really ready for.

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[Guest Post] “Dear Parents with Young Children in Church”

Reading Time: 5 minutesMy wife and I pastor a church that has a whole lot of kids!  It’s awesome!  But, with a lot of kids, comes a lot of noise, commotion, laughing, crying, talking, and sometimes even screaming.  Tradition would say, “it’s inappropriate during a Sunday morning service.”  I ask, “how can we modify our Sunday morning service to include our kids?”

While we think on that, read how one mother reflects on bringing Children to church in her blog post “Dear Parents with Young Children in Church“…

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant carseat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.

When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about Bible Study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together.When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.

I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles, in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of crumbs I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share peace with someone she’s never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup determined not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and point to the one in the front of the sanctuary.  I hear the echos of Amens just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I can’t see my own children learning because, well, it’s one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.

I know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but I want you to know, it matters. It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people… and even on those weeks when you can’t see the little moments, it matters to your children.

It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly timed depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.

I know it’s hard, but thank you for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family – with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy – are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.”

Let’s rephrase that last sentence… “Please know that your family – with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy – are not simply tolerated [at Bethel Pentecostal Church in Bay Roberts, NL], you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.”  Hopefully we can all insert our local assemblies.  If we can’t…

Let’s think about this…
If you’re a parent of young kids, do you bring your kids to church?  If you don’t, is it because of what others may think?  If you do, know you’re making an awesome impact, can keep doing it!

If you’re not a parent of young kids, how do you respond to “noise and commotion” during a service?  Remember being reverent is more than being quiet, it’s also acting in obedience – Jesus said, “let the children come to me.”

The next time you see a young mom or dad in church with their young children, make sure you let them know how proud you are of them!

Breaking Bread – The Early Church (Part 2)

Reading Time: 7 minutesA devoted church, is a church who eats together.  In this series, we’ll explore what Jesus said, what the early church did, and how we, the church, can become more devoted.

The idea of breaking bread has two implications: partaking in communion and eating together.  For the early Church, these usually occurred together.

What JESUS said about eating together…

Jesus did a lot of socializing.  Much like our culture, this included eating together.  We can see an example of this in Luke 19, when Jesus ended up becoming the guest of Zacchaeus:

[Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through.  And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.  And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.  So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”[i]

Let’s briefly look at this.  First, Zacchaeus was a chief tax-collector[ii].  As a result, he wasn’t well liked by the general public and quite rich.  It’s safe to say that’s probably why Zacchaeus had a hard time seeing among a crowd.

Secondly, Jesus made the first move.  Jesus didn’t pass Zacchaeus waiting for him to speak, “he looked up”[iii] and asked to be a guest at his house.  Jesus associated himself with someone who was rejected by most people.

Thirdly, salvation was brought to a household because of their generosity.   That generosity, however, was sparked because Jesus choose to spent time with them.  He socialized and ate with a “sinner” and as a result, Zacchaeus’ whole mindset was transformed.

Jesus also taught his disciples to remember Him by sharing in bread and wine.  Shortly after the Zacchaeus story, Luke records:

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat ituntil it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God… And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”[iv]

Jesus “reclined” with his disciples for a meal before he continued with the symbolic portion of their last supper together.  While Jesus socialized with those he associated himself with, they both shared in a meal and prepared for the coming significance of the cross.  They broke bread together.

What the EARLY CHURCH did…

The early Church devoted themselves to breaking bread on a regular basis.[v]  That said, Paul had to do some correcting on the matter while writing to the church in Corinth:

When you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you…When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.  For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.  What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?[vi]

Unity was the issue.  Instead of eating together, they ate on their own terms.  As a result, some were hungry while others had more than enough.   If there was unity, the church would have honored God by eating and sharing together.

It seems as though the early Church understood the last supper to be a Passover meal.  In remembrance of Christ, they too were “coming together”[vii] to break bread.  This also seems to be closely related to hospitality – an Old Testament principle with integral teachings in the New Testament.[viii]  The key here was inviting people into their homes to share in a meal which often included remembering Christ.  A mixture of Zacchaeus hospitality and scared communion; creating unity and remembering Christ.

What EARLY PENTECOSTALS did…

Pentecostalism started from a desire to leave organized religions.  Their goal was to spread the “good news” because they believed the fresh outpour of the Spirit was a true reminder of the imminent return of Christ.  How did they do that? Through friendships, social gatherings and divine participation.  Early Pentecostals participated together in unity during their services while often sharing the slogan “all are welcome”.

Eating together often meant three things: (1) celebrating with God; (2) celebrating with the faithful; and (3) celebrating the invitation.[ix]  For Pentecostals, partaking in communion and sharing in a meal helped them to be thankful for what Christ did, socialize with other believers, and present an invitation for others to experience salvation.  They were devoted to this process.

What the CHURCH TODAY needs to do…

I think we have a lot to learn from history.  Breaking bread should be seen as an activity which encourages unity.  Perhaps the best thing we could do is work on integrating hospitality and sacred time with God.  We need to make sure we are an inviting people who enjoy spending time with fellow believers, while remembering what Christ did for us.

So where does this leave us?  Perhaps we can start by thinking of ways we can make social times more sacred, and sacred times more social.  If we work towards integrating unity, our relationship with God and hospitality, we’ll start to experience what it actually means to break bread together.

Our assembly meets for a social and Bible Study Sunday nights, shares in communion once a month, gathers for socials throughout the year, and hosts campfires during the summer.  The challenge always remains – to make social times more sacred, and sacred times more social.

Will we be as devoted as the early Church was and break bread together?


[i] Luke 19:1-10, ESV.

[ii] Chief Tax Collectors – Would have collected from the extra taken from the tax collectors under them.

[iii] Luke 19:5.

[iv] Luke 22:14-16, 19-20.

[v] Acts 2:42; 20:7.

[vi] 1 Cor 11:17-22.

[vii] I Cor 11:18, 33.

[viii] James I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, William White, Jr., eds., Daily Life in Bible Times (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982), 109.

[ix] Wolfgang Vondey, “Pentecostal ecclesiology and Eucharistic hospitality: toward a systematic and ecumenical account of the church,” Pneuma 32, no. 1 (January 1, 2010), 49.