September 2, 2020

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” (Ps. 122:1 ESV)

Six months ago, our building closed due to COVID-19, but our church remained open and active. We continued to worship God, gather in prayer, study God’s Word, encourage one another, love our neighbors, care for the sick, and give to the needy. But something was missing – the physical presence of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Those who know Christ yearn to be physically present with His church (1 Thes. 2:17-18; 2 Tim. 1:4). In Phil. 1:8, Paul writes from a Roman prison cell to the church in Philippi, "For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection [literally the bowels] of Christ Jesus." The very inner parts of Christ were yearning through Paul to be physically present with the church. This is why it is so difficult to be separated from one another.

By God’s grace, NY has made significant improvement in recent months and our doors reopened in July for limited in-person services. Even though much of what we love about FBCF is missing (holy hugs, firm handshakes, fellowship groups, children running through the halls, a nursery filled with beautiful babies, the Spanish breakfast and the Chinese lunch), it has been a blessing just being able to gather together once again to worship our great God who is worthy of all praise (Psalm 145)!

Now, we understand that not everyone is ready or able to attend in-person services just yet, and that’s OK. Some of you have underlying health conditions or are especially at risk for COVID, while others may simply feel unready to join us for in-person services. We respect your decision and will continue to provide quality online worship services, classes, and prayer meetings as a way for you to connect with others and grow in your relationship with Jesus.

But as wonderful as those online resources are, they can never replace personal presence in community. Scripture supports this idea: "Though I have many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete" (2 John 12).  AMEN! When we take the Lord's Supper together, pray for one another, and confess our sins to one another, it is better done in physical community. So on behalf of the staff and Board of Deacons, I encourage you, if you are physically able, to move from being alone on the screen toward being in community with others.

“What about my children?” Children are welcome too but must sit with their families. Until we are able to provide in-person Children’s Ministry, all of our services are family services. Praise God for that! It is a blessing for children to worship alongside their parents and grandparents (Deut. 31:11-13). Our Children’s Ministers, Carol Tom and Soraya Cina, will continue to provide excellent online experiences for them to grow in their relationship with God and build stronger connections with kids their own age.

“But is it safe to return to FBCF?” Indeed. We are committed to providing a safe environment for you. Masks, temperature scans, hand sanitizers, social distancing, limited capacity (33% according to state guidance), and prepackaged communion elements are some of the ways we are providing a healthy environment. So, go to our website (www.fbcflushing.org) and make your reservation today. You must reserve a seat in advance.

“What about parking?” There are a limited number of parking spots in our parking lot. You can also park in the garage across the street and we will validate your parking coupon for the LOW, LOW, LOW price of $6.

But whether you worship in-person or online, I urge you to lean into every part of the service –
the prelude, the singing, the praying, the preaching, the announcements, the giving, the missions moments, the testimonies, and the benediction.
Whether in-person or online, let’s give God our very best.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV).

Choosing Faith Over Fear,

Pastor Gary Domiano