West Franklin Family,

If you’ve been on an airplane, chances are you have experienced turbulence. A good pilot will warn the passengers of what is coming and ease everyone’s fears by navigating them through the rough skies. It can be disruptive. It can be startling. It can give the nerves a jolt. Turbulence shakes the entire aircraft, knocking everything and everyone around for a few seconds or minutes before returning to smooth air. If the pilot warns of oncoming turbulence, you best go ahead and finish your Ginger Ale. If it’s not in you, it will be on you.

Nobody likes turbulence. Everyone wants smooth. Ultimately, however, everyone wants to get to their destination . . . alive. . . and together. When turbulence comes, its best to hunker down and endure. It usually doesn’t last long and, before you know it, you have touched down on the runway.

West Franklin, I hope I am wrong, but I believe we are going to experience a fair bit of turbulence over the next few weeks/months. Turbulence that is no one’s fault. Turbulence that we will get through. Turbulence that might shake everyone a bit. Turbulence that may give our nerves a jolt. Turbulence that may tempt us to want something stronger than a bit of Ginger Ale! Turbulence that may cause a bit of fear. But turbulence that will eventually lead us to smooth air and to our destination.

Let me explain.

In the coming weeks you are going to see, listen, read, and scroll through information about reentry. I. Can’t. Wait. It means we are getting closer to when we can look each other in the eyes.

BUT. . .

For the foreseeable future, there will be things that shake us up a bit. Consider. . .

Some will be required to wear a mask. Many will be grateful. Others will not like it. Still others will think it is foolish.

We will be operating at half capacity. You probably won’t get your favorite pew. I know. . . the struggle is real.

We won’t be able to hug or shake hands or fist bump. Many will be grateful and relieved. Others will not like it. Still others will think they can break these “rules.” They are wrong.

Some will feel like returning right away. Others will need some time. There will be a temptation to judge those who have a different opinion than you. Both are right.

Some think Trump and Governor Lee are doing a fantastic job. Others think they are destroying the country and the state. I recommend both of you to, ummm, pardon me . .  . shut up.

Some will want to come to one service but be asked to attend another.

Some will think we are “caving” to the government and not standing for truth. Others will gladly follow the guidelines set forth by the state. One of these groups need to read their Bible’s.

Some will think their rights are being taken away. Others are grateful they have the right to decide what is best for them.

You’ll have to bring your own coffee or water or tea or Ginger Ale. Again, I know. . . the struggle is real.

Some will want to wait until there is a vaccine. Others will declare, “have faith!” Both are wrong. Both are right. Love one another.

Some will be zealous to wash hands and use hand sanitizer. Others are morons.

 

West Franklin, I anticipate some turbulence. But here’s the thing: We’ll get through it. We will experience smooth air and head to our destination.

My plea for you, me, us during this next season is to (1) be aware that it’s coming; and (2) consider the implications. If we don’t navigate this turbulence well, we will miss out on an incredible opportunity to be a light in Franklin. Being on-line the last 3 months has allowed us to be known by many in our city who have yet to darken our doors. Hundreds who don’t attend on a Sunday morning have watched us on-line. What if they come as our guest and overhear us arguing about a mask? What if they are excited to worship Jesus with us and hear us griping about the Governor? What if someone who has yet to know Jesus is turned off to Him because they hear us judge someone who doesn’t feel “safe” to come back to church yet? What if someone walks on our campus, already anxious because they are new, frightened about being in public because of the virus, and see us hugging and shaking hands?

My point? This isn’t a “rights” or “opinion” issue. This is a Gospel issue. How we respond to the regulations and processes put in place over the next few months will communicate loud and clear what kind of people we aim to be for our city.

We all have opinions and thoughts and fears and concerns and preferences. I get it. They will cause some turbulence. But let’s not for one second let them turn people away from the Gospel.

Usually, when the pilot warns of turbulence, the trays have to be put back up, seat belts have to be on, overhead bins must be shut and locked, and the seats are to be placed in the upright position. Translation: your comforts (the few you have on a plane!) have to removed for a little while . . . for your own safety! If you abide by the rules, however, everyone is secure and there are no issues.

West Franklin, you’ve done remarkable over the last 3 months. You are doing remarkably well now. Soon, this COVID-19 season will be a thing of the past. Let’s aim for being able to look back over these next few months as a time when we demonstrated deep love for one another and a zeal to remove every obstacle (endure turbulence) that might hinder Gospel advancement.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to gulp down my Ginger Ale.

Soon,

Pastor Matt

 

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