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From the Pastor's Pen...

    “Are we there yet?” I remember asking that question from the backseat of our station wagon while we were on a family vacation. As a child, I don’t think I had the greatest patience when it came to reaching our destination. Add to that, whenever we encountered a sign up ahead that read, “DETOUR”, my heart would sink. “Detour” meant that the arrival time was going to be delayed. “Detour” meant I would be uncomfortable in the back seat for a bit longer. And each detour revealed what was really in my heart at the time. (Usually, selfishness.).
    Many of us have found ourselves in the midst of a humongous “DETOUR” in our lives. What we thought might be a slight bump in the road with the COVID-19 virus has turned out to be a major detour. Eight weeks ago I wasn’t saying phrases like, “Social distancing”, “self-quarantine” or “why is there no toilet paper at Target?” Now, we are wondering how many weeks we will only be live streaming the Sunday morning worship services and what other events at the church may be cancelled.
    In the first draft of this article, I was highlighting all the Easter celebrations and Joy of Easter performances that we could all enjoy and to which we could bring friends and family. Now, I’m writing a different story because of the detour. But just because we’ve been “detoured”- doesn’t mean God isn’t still at work.
    Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) or in another translation: “...and in everything, as we know, he co-operates for good with those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” (NET) I like in the latter translation how it depicts God as working with us to bring about the good.
    This past Monday, (March 16,) the entire staff and I got together to talk about where we are and what we are facing. I can’t tell you how proud of the staff I am in the ways they came together to meet this unprecedented “detour.” In the staff meeting we decided to cancel worship services in two week segments but provide an update each week through social media. So on Monday’s, we’ll provide an update as to where we are and what you can expect in the near future.
   That next day, the program staff and I met to talk about other areas of ministry and what could be done. The question? “How can we continue to be the church when we can’t be together?” In that conversation, we found we could offer worship through the website and facebook during the midweek time. Lindsay offered to read books to kids over the children’s ministry facebook page. Andy reached out to the Ogles community and let them know that when he runs the neighborhood, he is happy to pray for anyone who stops him and he will be praying for the neighborhood as he runs. We might even have some other fun things along the way. I can’t imagine going through this detour with any other staff.
    The bottom line? None of us plans for detours. But God can use the longest detour to teach us that our patience comes from Him. He can use the most uncomfortable detour to show us that He is our
peace – not our circumstances. And he can use even the most frustrating detour to reveal to us
that the most important thing is not the detour – but enjoying God on the journey and seeing what he is able to show us in the detour.

Grateful to be in the “car” with all of you!

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Address:  1200 Moreland Dr.
                  Belleville, IL 62223
Phone:  618-397-5994
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