Church Picnic August 30: KIDS CELEBRATE 125 YEARS

This year our annual church picnic is going to have some extra touches as we make it the church’s 125th Anniversary Party for KIDS. The plan is that children will have special involvements in the worship service, and the picnic itself will feature games and activities of various kinds — hopefully including a “bouncy castle” (used to be called “moonwalk”).

This picnic party is an open invitation to the whole city of Elgin. It will take place on the church campus at 1565 Larkin Avenue. Activities will begin with worship at 10:30, followed by lunch. Meats and beverages are provided, participants in the picnic are invited to bring their own picnic ware and a side-dish to share.

Fall Frights: Fear and Faith

Here are some reflections on the troubling events happening in our world. In light of the emergence of ISIS in the Middle East, and of Ebola, this post offers a reflection on a Christian point-of-view towards life, death, and being afraid. But first, I invite you into our PDF fall newsletter. This will keep you up-to-date on what is happening here through October.  A newsletter archive is found at the tab Church Newsletter:

ECCEsketch Sep Oct 2014 Newsletter1

War and Disease and the Christian’s Hope

There are rumors of war as terrorists for “Islamic State” (ISIS) are alienating most of the world with their tactics. It is a blasphemy to the Muslim faith to call such an organization “Islamic State.” They have been responsible for the murder of aid workers — an egregious breach of the ethics of the Koran. One way to think about this issue is that ISIS can call themselves “Muslim” only in the same way that the Ku Klux Klan could call itself “Christian” as it did back in its hey-day of violence, murder, terror and intimidation.  The vast majority of Christians rightly distance ourselves from the hate, violence, tactics and general world-view of the Klan.

At the same time there are also fears of a widespread outbreak of a deadly disease called Ebola. This comes in addition to food-safety scares, and employee terrorism and mechanical failures in components of our infrastructure such as air traffic control and water treatment. The Fall of 2014 hardly needs a Halloween to strike fear into the hearts of many, including believers in Jesus. How do we respond in such scary times? Does believing in Jesus help?

Believing in Jesus certainly helps me, and I believe it helps millions of people, because our faith keeps these frightening things in perspective. Jesus said, in Matthew 10:28, that rather than being afraid of those who can only kill the body, we should be afraid of God, who is also in control of the state of our souls for eternity. Trust in Jesus Christ means that we keep faith with God who will rescue us from death as a permanent state — a terrifying condition–, and turn turn death into a doorway into eternal life of peace and glory. So what can ISIS do to me? Only hasten my arrival in the loving arms of God, while they meanwhile heap wrath upon themselves. What can Ebola do to me? As the Apostle Paul writes, to live is Christ, and to die is an upgrade into eternal glory!

Some want to find in these events a hint that Christ might be coming soon. Of course I agree that this is a possibility. I am also convinced that Christ might not roll the skies back like a scroll for another ten thousand years. Each generation tends to think of its own crises and issues as the harbinger of God’s final promises to end history. But friends, if Rome fell, the United States can also be eclipsed as a world power without the world ending. This is not unpatriotic. This is a Christian statement backed by both Biblical and historical perspective.

The “Black Death” scourged Europe throughout the 14th Century; throughout the late middle-ages Christians thought their world was ending, and this view was taken by many of the leading Reformers through the 1500′s. Several evangelicals in the 1600′s and 1700′s charted Biblical time-lines to point to the climax of history in their own generation. One very compelling argument saw the French Revolution as a harbinger of the Return of Christ. World War I was followed by an Influenza epidemic — those who lived a hundred years ago had much more compelling reasons to believe their world was ending than we do today.

The Church over time has developed other ways of looking at the crises and realities of war, disease, and death. Trying to teach believers to keep things in a godly, biblical perspective, the church developed holidays to celebrate various saints who, following Matthew 10:28,  gave their lives even to death for the sake of their witness to Jesus Christ. The Church in the West selected November 1 as a Feast Day to celebrate “All Saints,” to commemorate all those who had died in the Lord and for the Lord. Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallowed’s Eve,” the evening of the celebration of All Saints.

As with so many other things, a solemn reflection on the reality of death and the memory of the departed took on other meanings. Reflection on fearing only God turned into a morbid fascination with what Hell might look like, so rather than saints being esteemed, many costume themselves as the undead — ghosts, zombies, vampires and the like.

Kept in perspective and within the boundaries of health and safety, these things can be fun. I take my daughters out for trick-or-treating. I see skeleton costumes and the like as human beings making a satire of ourselves — we think we are high and mighty in our world, but one day a year we and our children remind ourselves that we are dust and we shall return to dust. If we would remember such things soberly throughout the year, our reflections should turn us humbly toward God as our source for hope, meaning, and peace.

Meanwhile, this Fall, take the visceral frights that you have from Ebola scares and ISIS terror, and make that fright productive in faith: Pray for the persecuted Church around the world, and for the Christians being added to the Company of the Martyrs by the insane hatred of terror groups and hostile, paranoid regimes.

Summer 2013 at Elgin Covenant Church

The summer of 2013 is filling up with exciting events for the whole family. Whether just visiting or looking for a place to plug in your heart’s connection to Christ, you are welcome to be part of us this summer.

Worship: 10:30 AM Sunday
We would love to see you worship with us each Sunday at 10:30. Communion is offered the first Sunday of each month. The praise team Redeemed is part of worship usually the second and fourth Sundays of the month including the summer. The nursery is supervised and there are children’s activity/coloring bulletins available for pre-readers and kids through age 10. Each Sunday also features a time for the children up through sixth grade to sit forward and receive a special message. Children’s Church will begin again in September.

Vacation Bible School

This will meet July 8th through 12th, 10-11:30 AM, at the home of Pastor Jonathan and Amy Wilson and family. Pre-readers through fourth grade are encouraged to attend. Parents are welcome to stay and fellowship or observe. The curriculum is brought by Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) and taught by two teen-aged coaches with CEF. This is our fourth year running the CEF Vacation Bible School Back-yard Club and we are excited to bring it again. Please come to 17 North Commonwealth in Elgin. To register call the church at 847-888-2302 or the Wilsons at 847-468-1799, however no advance RSVP or reservation is necessary.

The CEF VBS experience will then be celebrated at our church at 1565 Larkin Avenue with a special ice-cream social, Friday evening at 7 PM. Kids will present some of what they learned and receive tokens of our appreciation for participating. On Sunday July 14th there will be an emphasis during the children’s message.

Bible Study

At both the Sunday School for adults at 9:15 AM and the Wednesday Midweek starting at 7 PM the Bible Study “The Ten Markers of a Healthy Missional Church” is being presented. Each week is devoted to one marker. The material on Wednesday evening covers the same as the Sunday School for those who cannot come at 9:15. We also have a separate opportunity for women to join together in prayer and Bible study each Tuesday at 1:30 PM, weather permitting. (Please note: if a Tuesday is extraordinarily hot the meeting might be cancelled because of the risks involved in getting to the church.) All of these groups are open to your immediate participation in any week.

Special Sundays

June 23rd, Pastor Greg Johnson, associate pastor for youth and families, will preach.

June 30th, Gospel music will be featured with special guests Velma Sept and the Larkins Family Singers. Pastor Jonathan Wilson preaching.

July 7th, Pastor Henoch Fuentes, our pastor of outreach and missionary with Outreach Christian Fellowship, will preach.

July 14th, VBS recap. Pastor Jonathan preaching.

July 21st, Special Guest Dr. Phil Wood, Director of Wayside Elgin, will preach.

July 28th, Dr. Daryl Rahfeldt, chairman of Elgin Covenant, will preach.

August 4th, we seek to have as many as possible join us at Covenant Harbor Bible Camp in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for worship. Details available on this site (stay tuned) or at covenantharbor.org. Dr. Daryl Rahfeldt will also lead worship at Elgin Covenant for those unable to make the trip.

August 25th, Picnic Sunday. Pastor Greg preaching, followed by food and games. Stay tuned.