August 28, 2020
Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
Yes, our epistle reading that we heard last Sunday continues to speak to us as we try to understand the Lord’s wisdom especially during this ongoing global pandemic. Has God been using this time of testing to strengthen your reliance on Him? Has He given you greater patience and joy during this time of the hardship? Most certainly we affirm Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:10 in our lives,
“Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
As we all know, July was an especially harsh month for our Rio Grande Valley. Our local health system was in an extreme crisis mode and was taxed beyond their abilities and facilities to care for all the Covid-19 patients. This article summarizes the devastation that was unique to our area.
Because of this surge, the Local Health Authority Dr. Melendez also ordered that Hidalgo county not begin “in person” school classes until after September 27. Immanuel’s school will follow this order.
Then, of course, we went through Hurricane Hanna at the end of July with widespread flooding and power outages. Our church narthex and offices didn’t escape water damage.
Yes, we’ve been through a lot since Judge Cortez issued the first shelter-in-place order on March 25th. Our four RGV counties have seen 50,000 Covid-19 cases and over 2000 deaths. We know families who have experienced both sickness and death. We’ve prayed a lot to our Almighty God to help us through all the crises that we’re facing. Oh, the depth of God’s good wisdom and knowledge! He has given each of us opportunities to pray for those who are hurting and give them spiritual hope in Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God, the number of new Covid-19 cases and daily deaths has begun to lessen in these past two weeks. Our hospitals are still at capacity, but it is becoming more manageable.
The Shelter-in-place order that Judge Cortez extended on August the 19th is set to expire on September 13th.
Immanuel’s elders met on Tuesday, August 25th to talk about when we might restart public worship services. Tentatively, we’ve decided on September 13th, the day the Shelter-in-place order expires, to begin worship.
We will continue to honor our government leaders whom God in His wisdom has placed over us, by following their state and local health mandates and guidelines. We will seek to provide the safest environment possible. It is important to note that Governor Abbott’s state-wide mandatory mask order does not apply to certain circumstances which include “any person who is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged;” The wearing of masks in services at Immanuel is preferred.
The personal decision to join public worship is one that each member makes with regard to one’s personal health. We surely respect this. I will continue to videotape the sermon and children’s message and provide the bulletin online. We’ve seen that in God’s good wisdom, His word has also been reaching beyond Mercedes through these electronic means during this pandemic. Since I’ll still be helping out Fishers of Men in September, their service will continue to be available on Immanuel’s website for additional spiritual strength.
On September 1st between 9am and noon, I will also be providing a 15-minute devotion time, prayer and the Lord’s Supper for each individual family who would like to come. Members are also welcome to arrange a visit with the pastor to their homes to receive the Lord’s supper.
Finally, we thank God for the support of the Orphan Grain Train of Wisconsin during this difficult summer. OGT sent 20,000lbs of frozen chicken on June 9th and 40,000lbs of Russet potatoes yesterday. Also, the Farmers to Families program that President Trump initiated has been helping the valley residents. The 2000 families who received a 20lb bag of Russet potatoes also received a box of Farmers to Families fruit and vegetables.
Yes! We daily trust in God’s wisdom and His complete care for all His people. We “who were once disobedient have now obtained mercy”. In God’s good time, He can change other disobedient people through this pandemic “that He might have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:30-32)
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”
In His merciful name,
During these trying times, we pray that God would give each of us a lot of love and patience for each other!
When we gather together again in God's house:
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