As we look forward, and begin planning what it looks like to regather, we as the elder team wanted to spend a moment to pastor you through the decisions we are encountering.
First, we want to take a moment to clarify who this is intended for. We know many are curious, or just watching from a distance, we love you but this is intended for those who are near and have trusted our leadership through this season. This is not intended to address a critical spirit, those wrestling with shame, or people looking for fault.
This is intended for those who find community and family inside Redemption Alhambra. Those who have been praying together for wisdom and discernment as we navigate this cultural moment. It is our joy and privilege to help you navigate this difficult time.
We strive to hear from God and we believe he is speaks to us in many ways, but these are some indicators we look for and the tensions:
- We listen to and learn from scripture. Tension: while much is clear, there is much that requires interpretation in how we see and view God and the intent of His heart.
- We listen to the Holy Spirit. Tension: He is clearly speaking and calling to us, but we are also filtering those calls through our own desires, fears, doubts, and logic. We must process whether it is the Holy Spirit or our best intentions. In Acts, we see the Spirit allowed tensions and different interpretations to encourage humility about our own point of view.
- We listen by watching other faithful followers of Jesus. Tension: Community is a great gauge for confirming what God is saying or what His heart is, but when everyone is feeling unique convictions it is difficult to find confirmation when our actions are not being validated with communal consistency.
With that, it is important to be continually calling each other to search and check the motivations of our hearts and assume the best in others.
What does this mean for us?
First, it means recognizing that while our individual activities and responses should be Godly and Spirit-led decisions processed with wisdom, logic, and evidence, we may also be called to respond contradictory to our feelings, emotions, and safety and interpret what is best for others. The Spirit continually calls us to consider others more highly than ourselves, to give sacrificially, and to share in suffering. In this season those things overlap and we are not only dealing with the physical wellbeing of our neighbors, community, children, and families, but also mental and emotional health. This presents a unique challenge for us, not only as we all seek the benefit of the whole but also the wellbeing of each individual in our community.
Second, assuming the best. This goes against our fleshly instinct because if someone’s action doesn’t align with our own conviction it is easy to assume the intent is also harmful, shaming, or wrong. 1 Corinthians 13:7 actually makes this a marker of a loving person/community. It sounds naive to bear all things, believe all things, and hope all things… but reminds us that it also endures all things.
We know in this season listening and obeying is moment-by-moment and day-by-day; for that reason, when we regather our discernment and the searching of our hearts must be heightened. We must be careful when asking questions like, “Are they wearing a mask, following my interpretation of social distancing, or functioning logically” – We need to first check to see if we are assuming their intent is loving. Do they love you and are they offering to love you and others to the best of their ability, just as you are striving to do for them?
Choose to assume the best when confronted with difficult or uncomfortable interactions. “They made me uncomfortable but they were not intending to shame me.” “They said no to what I thought the Lord told me was the best way to serve them, but they love me and are working on hearing Jesus.” Choose to assume the intent of the hearts of those in this family are for you.
I acknowledge that the idea of social distancing is a loose set of regulations forcing individual interpretation. In my faith community, I will choose to believe the decisions others are making are not to divide but are carefully being navigated as the Spirit is leading them. I will humbly examine my heart and rejoice when the Holy Spirit exposes fear, idolatry, and selfish motivation. I will walk in ongoing repentance and extend much grace. I refuse to contribute to division with projection and gossip. I acknowledge the tension and feel the freedom of my loving community to make decisions apart from condemnation and fear of judgment.
We are working to create multiple new opportunities for Redemption Alhambra to gather safely, both in-person and online. As our church family looks to reopen in these small ways, we will strive to create environments that follow the protocols laid out by our government and medical professionals (Providing PPE, sanitizer, proper cleaning precautions, encouraging social distancing). With that in mind, we are aware of the risk associated. This will require each person and family unit to evaluate in wisdom as per the leading of the Spirit.
We trust you will interpret the guidelines laid out under the authority of Love. For in-person gatherings, refuse to assume the worst, and continue to show grace in the awkwardness. As leaders we will not be policing behaviours (i.e. checking PPE, forcing people to stand 6ft apart). We will continue to call the whole to consider others and hope all things.
If the Spirit directs you to stay home in this season, we are continuing to improve the production quality of our live streams with better equipment and training. This is not primarily quality for the sake of excellence, but rather inclusion and the continued loving of our community by providing more and better options for connecting remotely.
For those of you aching for nearness and in-person community but are struggling to discern in this time, know you are loved and we trust you are presenting each day before the Lord. If you are struggling with fear or doubt, reach out for prayer.
Finally, for all of us, remember love.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Starting August 30, 2020
We’re excited to launch an early morning, open air service in our courtyard. This 1-hour gathering will feature an acoustic worship set, shorter-than-normal sermon, and of course, an opportunity to see the sunrise!
Live Stream Oriented Gathering
Starting September 13, 2020
The band is getting back together! This service will be held in our sanctuary with limited audience seating and a new layout oriented for at-home viewing via Facebook Live and YouTube.
We want to encourage you to discern from the Spirit how and when you can open your home to others. In place of our traditional RCs, consider how you can participate in 1-to-1 family gatherings. This is self-initiated, not church organized.
Cover image credit: “Noah’s Ark“, Italianate mural painting, mid-16th century studiolo.