When are We Opening for Worship?

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July 18, 2020

Re: Restarting Sunday Morning Services

Dear Congregation,

This week the leadership team met to discuss the restart of Sunday morning services.

Reviewing the criteria that we set for a potential restart (the results of our congregational survey, current provincial guidance, the experiences of other churches, and an internal risk assessment) we have decided to wait a little bit longer before re-opening.

The congregational survey clearly told us that we need to proceed with caution. This week a “COVID19 watch” was declared for Calgary Centre (our church neighbourhood). While a few city churches have restarted we think we need a bit more time to clearly assess the pandemic implications of these starts. While our internal risk assessment has shown us that we can open, we’ve decided that a slow move in this direction is our best way forward.

To that end we will continue with online services — in the current format — for the next few weeks. During this time, we will finish building our live-streaming technology. Once we are able to live-stream, the plan is to move our service recordings back into the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. This will happen sometime in August. At this point you’ll be able to access a live service (via a link) at 9:30 am on Sundays, and a recorded service on YouTube (shortly after the live service ends).

The plan is to do a couple of live services with nobody in attendance initially (so that we can work out the technological kinks and give our welcoming team some time to practice our COVID19 protocols). Once this is done, we will slowly open up the service to attendees in subsequent weeks.

During this time, we will continue to weigh all of our criteria for re-opening. If everything looks good, we will reopen.

Of course, all of this is playing out in a very fluid context. Ultimately the pandemic will set our timing. As church leaders we are committed to continuing to listen and discern our best way forward.

Thank you for all of your input in this process. We pray that God will continue to keep you in this unsettled time.

Your Marda Loop Church Leadership Team

 

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Good morning Church, and welcome back to our online service! Before I get into what John will be talking about in his message, I would like to say happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers in our midst. Whether you are currently a mother, a soon-to-be mother, hope to be a mother, have biological children or otherwise, I pray that those people around you would be able to love and bless you today and this week as a thank you for all the ways that you have loved and blessed us. This morning John’s message is about the parable of the immune system and he is talking about God’s providence in our own bodies. God has truly put us together in incredible ways, so as we worship this morning let us turn our thoughts and our hearts towards our amazing Creator. If you would like to sing along with any of these songs, the lyrics are either right on the screen or down in the descriptions, so please feel free to worship in that way if you are comfortable.

Seek First – Ben Smith & Jason Upton 

Indescribable – Chris Tomlin 

Our first two songs this morning remind us of God’s works and his provision for us in those things that he has made. Not only does God provide for us in times of trouble and in our urgent needs, but he is continually providing for us in the minutia and the mundane. Yes, God meets us in our needs and provides in some truly extravagant ways, but when we stop to think about the little things that make it possible to think and breathe and walk, the things that we see as mundane can become vibrant and awe-inspiring too.

Over and Over – Influence Music 

My favourite line from the song “Over and Over” is in verse two. The line says “eternal perfection in each miracle, / surpassing the wonder of what you’ve done before.” I especially like this phrase because it reminds us that God was and is a creator, continually working and creating good things that display his majesty. Paul says “for by him all things were created, in the heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17, ESV).

Give Thanks To God – Housefires 

So Will I – Hillsong Worship 

In Psalm 139, David says,

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16, ESV).

I pray that as you go out into this next week you will be able to see yourself and others in a renewed way. It is miracle, in the most literal sense, that we are alive. Let us strive to treat each other as grand creations and masterpieces created by the most renowned artist.

 

As always, all of these songs are also available at the top of our Spotify playlist, so if you would like to have these songs in a playlist format for as you go about your week you can check out the link below. Thanks, and God bless!

Spotify Playlist  

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome and good morning! As we enter into our time of worship today, we will be hearing from Michelle who will be bringing the Word and giving us a deeper understanding of the incredible creation that is the human mind. This morning, as we use this lens to look at the how we find meaning in the midst of suffering, let us lift our voices and turn our thoughts to the things above together. Wherever possible, I have included links to the songs with the lyrics either right in the video or in the description bellow.

Look To The Son – Hillsong Worship 

Be Thou My Vision – Audrey Assad 

While we listen to these first two songs, let us focus our eyes, our hearts, and our minds on God. In these times of uncertainty and waiting, it is so easy to get caught up in the fear and the frustration and loose our thoughts in the situations that we are not content with. My prayer is that in listening to these songs today you will feel the peace of Christ come upon you and that we would together be able to turn back to the one who does know what is going to happen next and the one who does have the answers and the solutions to all of the situations that have left us desiring resolution. Of all our desires, let Christ be the first on our hearts.

Highs & Lows – Hillsong Young & Free   

This song is based on the words of David from Psalm 139:

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your spirit? Or Where shall I flee from your presence. If I ascend to heaven you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me. If I say ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Psalm 139:1-12, ESV).

In response to the word that Michelle has just brought, let us remember that even the darkness of this situation is not dark to our almighty God.

It Is Well – Bethel Music 

Give Me Jesus – Sovereign Grace Music 

I encourage you this morning to heed the words of Psalm 31:23-24 that calls us to “love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” It is okay to have doubts and to have worries, but know that you do not have to be bound by those things. As we go into this next week, let us know that in our times of feeling lonely, hopeless, doubtful, and worried, God is with us in those depths. Even better, let us remember that though the situation may at times feel hopeless, Christ does not just give us hope but he is our hope.

 

Just in case you missed it, I will be updating our Spotify playlist weekly. So if you prefer to listen to worship music in a playlist format as you go about your week, the songs for the current week will always be at the top of the list! Thanks, and God bless.

Spotify Playlist 

 

 

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Welcome back to our worship blog! I say “our” worship blog because the intent for this is still to be able to connect and worship communally in the knowledge that together we are listening to the same songs, reading the same words, and putting in work to glorify God in what we are doing during days of isolation and uncertainty. This week, John is preaching on seeing God in our healthcare workers who are putting their own wellbeing at risk for the benefit of our nation and our world. As you worship in this way with the songs and the reading, take some time to reflect on the message and think about what it means to see a perfect God imaged in imperfect people who are doing Christ-like work.

Build My Life – Pat Barrett – https://youtu.be/QZW4_8_zCBE

No One But You – Hillsong Worship – https://youtu.be/rOPqG6FkV1c

By now, you are maybe starting to sense a pattern in our songs and the themes that I attempt to draw attention to. In our opening songs, I like to emphasize the “why” behind our worship. God is our foundation. Without this foundation, we would clearly not be doing church “long-distance,” and our hope for tomorrow would be bleak, but this foundation is so much more crucial than we often discuss. God made the rocks on which the foundations of our houses sit. It is only due to God’s provision that we have jobs, and entertainment, and food in our pantries. As we focus our minds to sing together, even if we are in different physical spaces, let us remember the One who has made all of this possible from the very beginning.

Good Grace – Hillsong United – https://youtu.be/CW3OuAaDyZ8

In the message this week, Pastor John paints the image of a united people, walking together towards one goal; fighting a pandemic alongside one another. As you listen to this song this week, my hope is that you can indeed take courage and that you will be able to remember where our help comes from. There are lyrics in the description, or if you turn on “closed captions,” the lyrics will appear on the screen for you to sing along with.

Jesus Paid It All – Newsboys – https://youtu.be/Hs05AtP2wd8

Death Was Arrested – North Point InsideOut – https://youtu.be/uMsMiluCUUI

Just in case you have lost track in the midst of all the changes, next week is Easter. It is perhaps more appropriate than we originally thought that the Covid pandemic happened during Lent, a season of waiting. As we turn our hearts and our minds towards the great sacrifice of our Saviour, I would like us to all be thinking about Jesus’ early followers. It is something of a long standing tradition throughout Christian history to wait and see what God will do next, and perhaps the most notable is the period of waiting between Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection. Though we do not know what tomorrow will bring, we can have faith that just as God’s plan was good then, His plan is good now.

 

Just a friendly reminder: if you prefer a playlist to the individual YouTube links, our Spotify playlist is also an option. I will be updating the playlist every week and making sure that the songs I have selected for that week will be at the top of the playlist. Thanks and God Bless!

Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7EB9xkQQtZJcMRAzV5hrdO?si=OWpqbha-Qxya_UDqDsdjVg

 

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With our situation ever evolving, I hope that you all have managed to find rest and peace in Christ this week. As we delve into more psychology this week, I have chosen some songs to focus our attention on God our father and our comforter. Michelle’s message is breaking down more of the psychology and science of our brain and what happens when we are confronted with things that elicit a fear response. So, as you listen to and perhaps sing the following songs, I encourage you to be thinking about who God is and how unchanging he is in the face of fear.

Goodness Of God – Bethel Music – https://youtu.be/IvSuGyJQ6oM

Your Glory / Nothing But The Blood – All Sons and Daughters – https://youtu.be/eQssA0HKYxE

As always, it is important to remember why we worship and who we are worshiping. “Goodness of God” is a statement of truth and a commitment of our aspiration to worship God in all things. In the face of fear, in the darkest valleys, and on the highest mountains, God is good and God is faithful. The second song, a medley of “Your Glory” and “Nothing but the Blood,” reminds us that more than simply being good, when we fail to see the beauty in the things around us we can always see the beauty in God’s sovereignty and glory as well as in Christ’s sacrifice for us. The link to “Your Glory / Nothing but the Blood” doesn’t have any lyrics attached, so while you are welcome to sing along as you learn the words or search for a video with lyrics attached, I encourage you to sit and listen to the words and internalize them as a prayer: “Lord, may I always behold your glory with awe and thankfulness.”

I Will Fear No More – The Afters –https://youtu.be/wMmmbJlWhtk

If you watched this week’s sermon before reading this blog post, you will recognize this song as the one I sang as our response to Michelle’s message. I don’t want to step on Michelle’s toes and speak too much about what fear is and how we can respond to it, but as you sing this song I want to draw special attention to the line in the second verse that says “when the wind and wave are coming, you shelter me.” In the midst of dark and uncertain times, it can be easy to believe that the only way to survive a storm is for God to calm the waves. However, what we see in scripture and what this song is hinting at is the reality that sometimes God’s solution is to shelter us from the waves rather than to make them go away.

No One But You – Hillsong Worship https://youtu.be/rOPqG6FkV1c

Be Thou My Vision – Audrey Assad – https://youtu.be/Optrm7lF16s

In closing, my hope is that over the course of the next week, and the next month, and however long this period lasts, we would be fixing our eyes on God instead of the problems in our midst. In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, “finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” and let us make that our goal this coming week.

One More thing,

This week, I have also compiled a list of songs that we have sung together, or that I have put in this worship blog, and created a Spotify playlist. Maybe you need to be reminded of these truths as you are driving to the grocery store to pick up essentials this week. Or, maybe you would like to be able to let these songs play in the background as you do work from home this week. However you use these songs and listen to music, I hope that this playlist is a helpful tool while you try to draw near to God throughout the week.

Spotify Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7EB9xkQQtZJcMRAzV5hrdO?si=OWpqbha-Qxya_UDqDsdjVg

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Though it is week two of our non-traditional church services, and I miss your faces already, God is still good and so we still worship. As John unpacks what is going on in our world this week, I have put together a list of songs that I hope will encourage you, remind you where we find our strength and our comfort in times of trouble, and focus your eyes on the good in the midst of the bad. While listening to these songs, remember that we do not need to sing side-by-side for God to hear our praise and answer our prayers, whatever the answer may be. As was the case last week, if you would still like to sing a long at home, I have included links to the original artists’ recordings with lyrics attached in the description where possible!

10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman – https://youtu.be/r3K3roEF36k

Goodness Of God – Bethel Music – https://youtu.be/IvSuGyJQ6oM

            The First two songs in our set are what you can think of as our typical opening call to worship. Both of these songs can serve to focus our hearts and minds on the reason we normally meet on Sundays for church, the reason we watch John’s sermon when it is online, and the reason we listen to and sing music: we do all these things as an act of worship. These songs also remind us that it is not just on Sunday mornings that worship occurs, nor is it simply singing songs of praise with the rest of our congregation. Our lives are to be worship and we are called to worship the Lord wholly in the depths of our despair, in our most triumphant and joyous moments, and every time in between.

It Is Well – Bethel Music – https://youtu.be/8Wb_WD1emFQ

For our song of response, “It Is Well” can help to remind us where we are to look to in our times of crisis and trial. This is a modern, recreation of an old him with new lyrics added to the verses and the bridge. One of the lines in the verse says “far be it from me to not believe, even when my eyes can’t see,” and I believe many Christians can identify with that statement right now. Though the situation is bad and it looks as if it will only get worse, we can have faith that God is not just waiting on the other side of this global pandemic, but he is in the crisis with us now.

Highs & Lows – Hillsong Young & Free – https://youtu.be/7ESO6SHEwGk

God Himself Is With Us – https://youtu.be/Vv8xirwTsPY

Our closing songs are starkly contrasting in style but unified in their message. As you listen to these songs, and as you go about the next week – whatever it may look like, I would like to encourage you to remember that our God sits with us in dark places. Psalm 23: 4-6 says

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The valley may be longer than we were expecting, and the shadow may feel darker and colder than we ever expected, but God is still the one who is in control, even in trying times, and God is with is and in us through all of these things.

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