Socially Distanced Cul De Sac Worship

So Corona has kind of changed everything – right?  But we are persevering and I hope you are, too.  Later tonight, we have an on-line gathering for prayer and to encourage one another for missional living.  It’s not the same as sitting at a table or in a living room, but it works for conversation.  We don’t try to sing, and when we try to pray as a group, it’s a bit more awkward.  But we make it.  We have a long standing habit of closing with the Lord’s prayer together.  It’s pretty out of sync, but we make it.  And it is good to “see” one another.  We haven’t tried communion yet.  We don’t have plans for that tonight, but for our next gathering we will give it a shot.

Our discipleship gatherings are actually doing pretty well in terms of participation.  It seems to be more consistently attended.   It feels more leader led – conversation around the group happens less – and while side conversations can be a distraction to the rest of the group, I find them to be generally healthy.  It means people are connecting, and new ideas and insights can be brought in to the conversation.  That doesn’t happen easily on line, so our conversations are less enriched.  However, it is a gift to be able to connect this way.  We are grateful!

Sunday worship has been interesting.  We’ve been sending out morning messages and have been posting them on-line.  So far, it’s just been me, but next week, Sara Taber will bring the message.  This is something that we probably wouldn’t have done apart from the Corona pandemic.  But the technology is affordable and the internet makes it easy.  As our goal is to invite, encourage, and equip people for life on mission, posting on-line is creating a resource that can be tapped over and over again.  We’re keeping them short and to the point – fifteen minutes or less.  We’d appreciate your prayers for this work.

Lastly, how do you do mission in the neighborhood?  In Florida, there’s a rule that limits gatherings to 10, and of course everyone is supposed to be socially distanced.  My friend Gregg, who leads a church called Champions Way, told me he organized an Easter worship service in his cul-de-sac.  Everyone on the cul-de-sac stayed in their own yard but they pulled off and Easter worship service.  Inspired by that, we have been inviting two families to join us in our cul de sac every Sunday.  (If you count the dogs, we had thirteen in attendance today.)  It’s a good spot for this.  Ours is the only house on the cul de sac, so there is plenty of space and it’s out in public, but we aren’t interrupted by cars backing up.  The weather has been great.  We enjoy shade from our front yard oak tree.  I bring my guitar and we sing a bit.  I preach a short message based loosely what is posted on the video message.  I contextualize it a little for our cul-de-sac congregation.  It’s conversational.  (Is that worship?  Is that “up”?) After worship, we hang out and visit.  It’s really nice to be with people, even in that small gathering.  Last week, after worship, we all pitched in to help a neighbor with yard work.  (Was that mission?  Was that “out”?)  This week, we talked about some of the challenges of discipling our kids, of raising them in the faith. (Were we encouraging one another?  Investing in one another?  Was that “in”?)  Whenever you see Up-In-and-Out, you are seeing the church.   And it hasn’t been hard.

What’s going on where you are?  How are you doing life on mission during Corona.  By the way, if you are on the front lines of this pandemic, thank you!  One of our asides this morning was to remember where our help comes from (Psalm 121).  May the Lord be your help, and we are grateful that he is working through you to help.  You are in our prayers.  And we are also praying that God would stop this disease.

May the Lord be with you!

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Church!

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Going and Discipling Sunday May 3

Here’s a short message for Sunday May 3.  Ever felt left behind by the command to “Go to all the world and make disciples”? And what is a disciple anyway? Message from LoveFirst Coast for Sunday – just click on the link!
This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us worship the Lord!

 

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LFC Update

There’s too much too report!

But we’re having a gathering on Zoom Sunday night to talk about a rhythm for the season ahead and to pray.  If you’d like to be a part of that, email me at pastorjessealexander@gmail.com.  If you have a prayer request, you can email the same address – or better yet submit a prayer request by clicking prayer request on the menu.

I’d like to tell you about Pastor Sara Taber coming to work among us, and about her amazing family and the steps they are taking to build missional community in the Gables.  I’d like to tell you about Zoom discipleship gatherings.  I’d like to tell you about cul de sac, socially distanced worship.  I’d like to hear how everyone is doing.  And how we miss each other but we’re still grateful for the ability to connect.  I’d like to tell you about the creative ways our mission partners are trying to keep things going and about opportunities for mission on the First Coast.  I’d like to tell you about some ways to support Young Lives, the young moms and their babies.

I’d like to tell you about praying for revival, about hearts turning to God, and about a real openness to the good news of the gospel.  God is at work!

But there’s too much to tell!  So hey, if you can, join us Sunday night!

If you are on the LoveFirst Coast email list, look for an email later this week.

And if you missed last weekend’s message, Shouting, Thanking, and Praise, just follow this link.  (It’s on YouTube.)

Posted in community, Discipleship, Missional Community, missional living, neighboring, Prayer, Worship Gathering, worship service, Young Life, Young Lives | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creative Easter!

This year, we are approaching Easter like an artist with a blank canvas.  Or like a poet with a blank sheet of paper.  Or like a musician ready to try to write a new song.  In other words, we don’t know what it will look like, but we’re going to step forward and try.  We’ll make a mark on that canvas, put a word on the page, hum a melody and try to fit a few words into it.  And that actually resonates with the first Easter.

I mean, how do you live into a new reality?  How do you live knowing that sin has lost its battle with grace?  How do you shift to believing that death has been swallowed up by Jesus?  That was a new way to live.  If you read through the post resurrection stories and the book of Acts, if you read Paul’s letters in the order in which they (probably) were written, you get a clear sense that they were learning as they went.  You see evidence of trying and not doing so well. You see them continually trying.  (You also learn that some gave up.)  You see them getting better at life on mission, better at living into the new reality that the cross and resurrection had ushered in.

We’re doing something like that now.  Churches all around the country are hosting on-line meetings, streaming messages,  posting songs.  Since Thursday, I heard music, teaching, and preaching from people I have not sat in church with in decades – most were posting things from their homes.  Are we good at it?  Honestly, not too bad in my opinion – and getting better –  like artists who keep working at their craft.

In that spirit, I’m posting my second self-recorded video message.  The quality improved a bit – I think?  But if you watch it, my prayer for you is this: May the Lord use it to strengthen your hope, increase your faith, and remind you a bit of the height, width, depth, and breadth of his love for you in Jesus Christ.

(Quick word of thanks to the Underground Open for making me think about mission like art.  You all encouraged us well!)

Easter and the Bible in 10 Minutes

If you want to think more about the message, here’s a place for more exploring.

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Holy Week! Different This Year

Remember the Story: I just spent some time with friends (in a zoom meeting) remembering the events of Holy Week.  We took a journey from the Triumphal Entry to Jesus being laid in the tomb.  It’s a like a journey from bright light into deepening darkness.  I think this season with coronavirus resonates with that.  God does powerful work in darkening times.  And the story reminds us that darkness doesn’t have the authority to claim us.  Jesus is the light that pierces the darkness. He enters into our dark places and brings us out!  What a Savior!
 
Good Friday:  I’m really going to miss our tradition of going to the beach for sunrise on Good Friday. It has become a favorite in our family.  We will miss being together with many of you, worshiping as the sun rises, remembering the greatness of Christ’s love for us!   Even though we won’t be together, I encourage you to think about how to use the day.  I am thinking of doing a Facebook Live broadcast of the sunrise.  Do you have ideas?
Easter: We have always encouraged being creative with Easter, reaching out to neighbors, or blessing a local church.  (Blessing churches is one of our values!)  Creativity is certainly needed in this season.  In the last three weeks, my family and I worshiped in a park, at a table on our patio, and at the kitchen table.  I don’t know where we’ll be this week, but we will worship as a family. What about you?  Many churches have on-line services.  Some are celebrating communion.  Be creative.  Create a beautiful setting.  Let Jesus renew your hope!  Don’t miss Easter!  Death has been swallowed up in victory!  Jesus has won!
Very often, these posts include information about our next gathering.  I’m not sure when that will be.  I know many of us are meeting, leading, and ministering on-line.  Keep it up.  May the Lord give you strength and remind you regularly of the height, width, depth, and breadth of his great love for you!    
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Unity Day JCP

Sometimes, it’s good to be stretched.   Getting to Unity Day JCP was quite a journey.   Galatians 3:26-29 tells us that “in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”   Love doesn’t make us all the same.  It leads us to be together, to share, to celebrate the differences, and to bless one another.  Jesus really does make all the difference in the world!

As I’ve stepped toward mission in my neighborhood, one of the things I prayed for was to be a part of a racially reconciled community on mission representing Jesus in Julington Creek Plantation.  The way I expected that to happen didn’t happen.  But the Lord has a way of doing things that are different – and far better – than mine.  The prayer I prayed was fully answered.  On Saturday, I was a member of a racially reconciled community on mission.

Lot’s of laughter, good food, snow cones, a wide variety of music, preaching the word, prayer.  It wasn’t all comfortable, but we were able to work together with love and kindness for one another and for the community.  It was good day!  And maybe, just maybe, it was a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here are a few pics provided by my friend Rick Smith!

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LoveFirst Coast Calendar and Updates

Worship Gathering Sunday, March 8 6-8:30 at the Alexander house (320 S. Buck Board Dr.)  We’ll be looking at obstacles to the experience of God’s grace in our life.  Hope you can join us.

We’ll be talking about obstacles to grace.  LoveFirst Coast is about encouraging and equipping people who are living life on mission and inviting others into that life.  We try to serve that purpose in all we do.  If you are living life on mission and there is a way we can support you, please let us know!

Gathering Opportunities – These are designed to encourage and equip people to live life on mission.  

  • Sunday March 8 – Dinner and Worship Gathering – 6-8pm – at the Alexanders 320-S. Buck Board Dr, 32259
  • Saturday March 14 – Unity Day Party 11am-3pm – at Davis Pond Park 875 Davis Pond Blvd, 32259
  • Wednesday March 18 – LFC Gathering for the Annual Meeting – at Norma and Andrews 10715 Michael Edward Ct.  32257
  • Sunday March 22 – Dinner and Worship w/ Young Life Leaders –  6:30-9pm – watch for more info.
  • Friday April 10 – Good Friday Sunrise Gathering at Mickler’s Landing – at Sunrise
  • Sunday April 13 – Easter – Want to host a worship gathering in your neighborhood?

Threshold Crossers – Events help you grow deeper.  There are two coming up!

  • Women’s Great Banquet – March 26-29
  • Mens’ Great Banquet – April 16-19

Spiritual Growth and Discipleship groups are gatherings on Wednesday nights and Thursday lunch.

Mission Opportunities – There’s no such thing as an unsent Christian – and there’s no such thing as a Christian sent alone.  

  • w/ Young Lives (Teen Moms, Teen Dads, and Babies) – see Lee or Rita
  • w/ Grieving Families -see Norma
  • at/ the Gables – see Brandon and Sara
  • at/ Carter Hall – See Norma or Andrew
  • at/ St. Johns Preserve – See Kent or Kris
  • w/ Young Life – see Jesse, Tom, or Nicholl
  • w/ Outreach Events (Like Unity Day) – see Nicholl or Jesse

What’s Been Happening?

Learning at the Underground Open:  It’s been said that if you want your people to catch the fire, take them where it’s burning.  What does that look like?  How about 200+ micro-churches (aka missional communities) involving some 6000 people engaged in wide-ranging mission across the Tampa Bay?   So nine of us traveled there to learn from the Tampa Underground at an event called the Underground Open.  Through inspiring worship, challenging teaching, and break-out sessions. we learned a good deal about mission by learning about the work of artists.

  • God’s an artist and we’re created in his image!
  • Mission is like art in this: You gotta start.
  • Mission is like art in this: Expect the first efforts not to be impressive.
  • Mission is like art in this: Expect to fail.  But don’t stop.
  • Mission is like art in this: Keep at it. You’ll get better.
  • Mission is like art in this: Beautiful things will unfold.

There were many, many lessons and takeaways from the weekend.  Too many to mention tonight.  But if you are a church leader with a missional mindset, learn what you can about what God is doing in the Tampa Underground.

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Retreat: The retreat was pretty amazing!  Our focus this year was on the presence of Christ.  The Lord brought us together and into a time of sweet fellowship around his table!  Of course, Jesus is present with us always, and we looked into God’s Word and considered how we are strengthened, shaped, and led into mission by him when we spend time at the Lord’s Table, in dinner fellowship, and as we go forth in mission.   The Lord who has promised, “I will not leave you or forsake you,”  keeps his word!

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Retreat 2020

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