Time to “Switch Back On” FBC Meetings at 5590 N. Nevada?

When I was in the High School class of a fine Baptist church in the Detroit area, the viral scourge of “Rock and Roll” music was pandemic. The adults who led the class wanted to protect us both from the “sinful lyrics” and from the “devil’s drumbeat.” After much discussion, and prayer (I hope), they decided they could not come up with standards with which to measure the relative “sinfulness” of each song and none of them wanted to listen to all that “evil” music to determine which songs were OK for us to listen to as “good Christians.” The answer? A black/white, on/off switch decision. “All secular music is bad. God doesn’t want you to listen to any of it.” You can probably see the holes in that argument and the practical issues. I played trombone in a concert band and an orchestra. We were rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and a part of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony at my public school when the Sunday School “all-secular-music-is-bad” edict came down from above. Now what? Who do they say “is always in the details?”

The unknown elements of the Covid-19 virus and a potential pandemic made it easier to make a black/white, on/off decision to shut down much of normal life in our country. Setting aside conspiracy theories, likely no one here had enough information, or felt they had enough time, to make detailed decisions on a case by case basis of what should stay open and what should close in our lives. Although we might not agree with the black/white, on/off decision, I think we can understand why it was made in the moment.

However, now comes the more difficult part—factual thinking about what really matters. What does make a difference? Among government leaders and politicians, there is a wide difference of opinions on what is “essential.” Some of us, or even many of us, don’t agree with some or even many of their conclusions. How should we respond to that disagreement as the Body of Christ? How about as a local facet of that Body called FBC?

Do the leaders of FBC feel like they have enough factual information to rebel against secular authorities in God’s name? Have we reached the point where we are at some form of an “obey God rather than Caesar” issue? After meeting last night, I would say we don’t think we are there yet.

Do the leaders of FBC think we have enough, clear factual information to begin to “switch back on” use of our facilities by groups? Could small groups of different types begin meeting again by “enforcing” the guidelines of only groups ten or less, social distancing, masks (still don’t know if this is always a guideline or not?), etc.? Some of us felt we could. Others, after thinking of specific “small groups,” felt it would be nearly impossible actually to follow the guidelines for all involved.

Ultimately, the consensus was, we will wait a bit longer before beginning to open the facility again even for smaller group meetings. Because things could change quickly, the elders have met every week to talk through the details. Our desire is to “open” sooner rather than later. We want to do this in a way that honors our secular authorities, with the honor due to them, and truly practices the protective measures we say we are practicing. For today, given what we know, this seems like the best way for us to have integrity as leaders.

This means the FBC facilities will remain as they are—closed to meetings for now. As always, there may be individuals in the facilities, from time-to-time, carrying-out necessary work. If nothing changes we will continue with the facilities closed like this until after Sunday, May 17. We will let you know any plans for opening after that as soon as we can.

Thank you, as a whole Body, for your faithful support of one another in praying, consuming God’s Word, connecting with one another in creative ways and your giving of finances faithfully. Much of the normal mission of FBC goes on in these abnormal days. May God be glorified! May we continue seeing through “eyes of faith” and not only through “eyes of flesh.”

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Everlasting LIFE is a gift…by God’s grace alone, through simple faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

We can’t GO to church…We ARE the church!

The church does not exist for its own sake but for the sake of the world God loves!


Maybe We Can Begin Asking When?

I pray you are doing well as we continue to be “geographically” apart for worship this Sunday. Have you begun to ask when will we be back together on Sunday? When can I go back to work? School? Friends? Normality? As I watch and listen, the folks are getting restless.

The elders will meet this Tuesday (virtually still of course). I think maybe, just maybe, we can begin asking when? At least we can ask, how will we decide? As I have said before, we are blessed with a meeting place with enough space we could all sit not just six feet apart but six seats apart. You all can wear masks. The singers can sing from the little balcony. I’ll stand far way up on the stage. I’ll have to work out better how to preach in a mask. My glasses steam up. I’ll start practicing.

My eyes are getting tired from too much screen time (some necessary some by poor choice) so I am not seeing well. My sermon for this week on the www.fbccs.org site addresses “seeing” in times like these—actually all the time. Thomas might have said “seeing is believing”.  My point is more that “believing is seeing.”

I invite you to listen or read the sermon. I also, at the last minute, attached a song that touches a bit on the same theme. I didn’t ask this in the sermon, but I’ll ask it here. Where does the elderly woman in the video turn to be able to “see” when she finds herself “in the dark” of life?

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Everlasting LIFE…by God’s grace alone, through simple faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

We can’t GO to church…We ARE the church!

The church does not exist for its own sake but for the sake of the world God loves!


Anybody else sometimes forgetting what day of the week it is?

You probably didn’t forget that today is Friday—the Friday we solemnly designate as “Good Friday” We know the victorious power of what is coming but we dare not forget what our Lord chose to suffer for us as, “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death—even death on a cross!

I have placed a short Good Friday “lesson” in the sermon section of the www.fbccs.org page. I apologize in advance if my sermon “themes” sound a bit repetitive. However, my heart’s desire in these days is to be authentic and not concerned about producing a “show”—an appearance of things that is not necessarily real. These “themes” are very real for me. They are where my heart is for myself, you and FBC as a body. The Good Friday “lesson” asks what it is like when the familiar things we comfortably trust are suddenly gone.

Lord willing, the Easter sermon sitting on my desk and ready to go to the www.fbccs.org site, will be loaded with the perfect balance of Friday and Sunday that only God’s Word can bring to all of our hearts. There will be an exceptionally great deal of God’s Word in it for you to consider.

If you have the opportunity, and God leads, listen to or read the first part of the sermon early. I plan to post it Saturday evening. In that first section, I am going to ask you to consider doing something different than you might have expected for celebrating Resurrection Sunday 2020. Some of you might want to make some plans for yourself or with others based on my suggestions.

As you worship this Resurrection Sunday, please remember, we are united by the One Spirit of God even when we are not physically together. I know this is difficult to conceive and to believe, but all else we do to “be together” in this world is only symbolic of the reality that we are united in Christ. As just one example, we think of a good marriage as a sort of an “end game”—a good goal in itself. The Apostle Paul tells us that even the togetherness of a good marriage is but a beautiful symbol of a far, far greater union.

Recall Hebrews 11:10-16. Like Abraham, “we are aliens and strangers on earth.” I’m discovering, as with Abraham, it takes some doing for God to get me to “admit” that truth. We cling tightly to the “familiar things we comfortably trust.”

My prayer is that this Resurrection Sunday, we will “admit we are truly aliens and strangers in this world,” open our clinging hands and see the power of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in ways we never have before. My prayer is we will come back together someday with a new realization—an even clearer understanding—of what truly matters as a church on God’s mission in a world that is not our true home.

Sorry! Got to preachin’ there.

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

Everlasting LIFE…by God’s grace alone, through simple faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone!

We can’t GO to church…We ARE the church!

The church does not exist for its own sake but for the sake of the world God loves!

With love in Christ and TOGETHER in Him this Resurrection Sunday 2020,


Masking and Waiting

FBCCS Brothers and Sisters,

Frankly I hadn’t expected it to come to this. Mary is now mask-making instead of quilting. Actually, when all this started, I didn’t know what to expect. It seems like we will be doing one of my least favorite things for the foreseeable future—WAITING! Maybe God thought I/we needed some practice at that? I’ve talked with some of you about it and we agree it’s not easy and not, immediately, very fulfilling. But, let’s put our “waiting room” masks on and wait well on God.  

I hope you have had a chance to try the updated “fbccs.org” website. Maybe you are reading this now because you are on that site. You who have discovered the section on “Worshipping Him” know that a number of folks in our body have been writing down ideas of worship from their hearts. These were intended to be short plans that we could use in small groups to guide us in worship. It turns out they also serve well as inspiring devotional guides. They are not fancy, but they are good and come from the hearts of our brothers and sisters. Take a look at these when you can.

So far, as a body we are doing well at praying for one another and serving one another in practical ways. You have provided meals for each other, run errands, and helped in many different ways. Much of this has happened naturally without any need for a program. However, if you need it, the program is there for you to ask for help on the site or offer your service to the body.

Our 2nd-mile men and women have been helping us serve one another as well. As thoughtful younger folks, they have been doing some special shopping and delivery work wisely. They love to serve if needed. They also helped us help a family outside of our FBC body who has taken in some homeless kids to protect them from the virus. We were able to supply groceries for the increased number of mouths to feed when funds were running low. If God leads, please continue to support the FBC Love Fund with financial resources to allow our body to keep serving all those God brings across our path these days.

Please use the opportunity the website provides to connect with various groups of FBCers meeting over Zoom. If you check the “Gatherings” section of the site you will find a few there now. If you are holding a meeting that others can join, please let me know and I will get it posted. 

Lord willing, I hope to post a short video message on the website for Good Friday, April 10. Then, watch for plans for celebrating Easter Sunday.

Most of all, pray for one another and “wait on the Lord” in the way the Bible means that. May God’s grace and peace be with you! May we bring glory only to Him in these days as the FBC body!

Raleigh Gresham