Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Apr 9
2020

An Invitation to Good Friday and Easter 2020

Easter, Good Friday | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

We are quickly approaching Good Friday and Easter.

What is Good Friday?

Good Friday marks the day that Jesus was unlawfully tried and brutally murdered on a cross outside Jerusalem, nearly 2,000 years ago. It can seem so far removed from our lives—historically and culturally—that we simply dismiss it as a mere footnote of history. But, it is not a footnote. Good Friday marks the culmination of the redemptive promises of God in the substitutionary death of Jesus, to rescue all who place their faith in him (1 Pet. 2:24-25).

What is Easter?

Easter Sunday marks the day on which Jesus triumphantly rose from the grave. His resurrection served as an exclamation mark to all he said and achieved (Rom. 1:4). While many reject the resurrection as an ancient fiction, we should ask whether that rejection is well-founded or merely a by-product of cultural bias. There was no reason to invent the resurrection. It was completely implausible to begin with. So, the question isn’t “What do I feel about the resurrection?” but “Is the resurrection true?” If the resurrection is true—and it is—it changes everything about everything.

A Man Unlike Any Man

Therefore, this weekend is all about Jesus—the best known and most influential person the world has ever known. More lives have been changed by him, books written about him, and songs sung to him than anyone. The Western calendar literally revolves around his arrival. Today, 2.2 billion people identify themselves as Christians and see him as the way to God. That means that followers of Jesus make up a greater proportion of the world’s population now than ever before. No other figure comes close to crossing cultural, racial, political, historical, and geographical boundaries as extensively as Jesus. Why? Because he rose that first Easter morning.

The Details

We will livestream our Good Friday service on Friday, April 10th at 6PM. We will sing, pray, and reflect. This time together is always uniquely moving and helps to heighten worship on Easter, so we encourage you to participate. This service will be 90 minutes.

We will also livestream our Easter service on Sunday, April 12th at 10AM. As usual, we will be holding our pre-livestream prayer and connect at 9:15-9:45AM. The Easter sermon will be grounded in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, in which we will consider the importance and historical reliability of Jesus’ resurrection. This service will be 90 minutes.

Let’s ask Jesus to save, awaken, and reinvigorate souls to the breathtaking reality of his resurrected love over this weekend—in our lives and in the lives of all who do not yet know him.

Because the tomb is empty,
Pastor Adam

P.S. The landing page for both livestream services is found here.

Mar 27
2020

Covid-19 Update: Staying Home, Livestream, Lord’s Supper, and Giving

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

There is scarcely a page in the Bible that does not deal with the trials and troubles of life, from the mundane to the catastrophic: sibling murder (Gen. 4:8), cataclysmic flooding (Gen. 7:22), betrayal (Gen. 37:24), forced enslavement (Ex. 1:13), rebellion (Num. 16), unwanted wandering (Num. 32:13), inept leadership (Jud. 21:25), economy-ruining famine (Ruth 1:1), infertility (1 Sam. 1:6), impossible battles (1 Sam. 17), political turmoil (2 Sam. 15), fear (2 Kings 10:4), exile (2 Kings 25:11), life-altering loss (Job 1:13-19), pestilence (Dt. 28:21), heart-rending grief (Neh. 1:4), opposition (Ezra 4:4-5), humiliation (Est. 7:7-10), haunting questions (Ps. 42:11), prolonged waiting (Ps. 40:1), failure (Ps. 51), sickness (Isa. 38:1), weeping (Jer. 9:1), lament (Lam. 2:5), mourning (Dan. 10:2), regret (Mt. 27:5) and more.

Yet, over them all, the “Lord our God the Almighty reigns” (Rev. 19:6). He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11); not merely some things or most things or easy things—all things. This means he is always at work and that nothing can thwart his purposes (Job. 42:2), including Covid-19. God’s sovereignty over suffering sustains the soul, even amidst death, because his purposes are wise (Isa. 28:29) and good (Ps. 73:1). The Scriptures are a living testimony to this wisdom and goodness of God amidst trial and trouble and are, therefore, meant to infuse our lives with endurance, encouragement and hope, in Christ (Rom. 15:4). So, I hope this brief note finds you tethered to God through God’s Word.

In light of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order issued this week, I am following-up on three points:

#1 We will continue to livestream on Sundays @ 10AM.

Governor Inslee’s order requires all state citizens to remain at home unless we need to go out for essential services or are performing those services ourselves. While there was some ambiguity earlier in the week, we have learned that the government does include churches providing streaming as “essential.” This was confirmed by our lawyers here and Inslee himself here when he said, “Religious institutions can have…a certain number of people present at places of worship to ensure that online remote services can be afforded to their flocks” (2:30 minute mark). Therefore, by God’s grace, we will continue to livestream on Sunday mornings at 10AM while being “subject to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1-7).

#2 We will not celebrate the Lord’s Supper until we are gathered again.

Some have asked whether we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper virtually during this time. The short answer is: no. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance that points to the new people of God whom Jesus redeemed and is therefore corporate by its very nature (1 Cor. 10:17). This is why it is only celebrated when we come together (note the language of “come together” in 1 Cor. 11:17,18,20,33), not merely as individuals, households, or smaller segments of the church. Perhaps the Lord will use this time to grow our love, appreciation, and longing for celebrating the Supper together.

#3 Let’s be generous, sacrificial, and cheerful givers together.

This season is financially impacting many in our church in dramatically different ways. Many remain gainfully employed, whereas others have suddenly lost their jobs or found themselves on furlough. Amidst this season of uncertainty, we are still called by God to worship him through our finances by placing him squarely in the middle of our budgets. This giving is to be voluntary, eager, and cheerful (2 Cor. 9:7). God rewards these kinds of givers in a myriad of ways (2 Cor. 9:6). So, let’s continue to trust him in our giving together because His mission continues, the gospel must go forth, discipleship never stops, churches need to be planted, and our city is ready to be served.

Let’s continue to pray—for one another, other gospel-preaching churches, and for our city. Let’s ask Him to uniquely use this season to create a spiritual awakening our city has never seen.

With you, in Christ.
Pastor Adam

Mar 13
2020

How To Make The Most Of A Livestream “Gathering”

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Our God is “the hope of all the ends of the earth and the farthest seas” (Ps. 65:5). Even when we walk through seasons of upheaval and uncertainty, we do not fear because he promises to be with us (Isa. 43:1-5). In Jesus, nothing that comes our way can separate us from his love, or thwart his purposes in our lives, whether “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (Rom. 8:35; Ps. 138:8). Seasons like this test the quality of the foundation that our lives are built on (cf. Mt. 7:24-27).

GOING TO LIVESTREAM THIS SUNDAY AT 10 AM

One of the unfortunate temporary side-effects of this season is that we will not be able to physically gather in light of government mandates to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19. We are glad to partner with the community and “seek the welfare of the city” (Jer. 29:7). We want to love one another (Jn. 13:34) and our neighbors well (Mk. 12:31). However, it means we are entering new territory as a church.

So, what do we do when we can’t physically gather? Well, we do the best we can. Under the circumstances, that means utilizing livestream technology to gather virtually while we are scattered throughout the city. Therefore, beginning this Sunday we will consolidate our two morning gatherings into one livestreamed gathering at 10am.

THIS IS A TEMPORARY CONCESSION

The church gathers; that’s what it does. The local church is Jesus’ set apart people, in a specific place, who exist to glorify him by committing their lives to one another. The local church is the universal church made visible and is, therefore, a miracle of God. This is why physically gathering with Jesus’ people on the Lord’s Day has been a privilege and priority from the start (Heb. 10:25, cf. Acts 2:42f).

Therefore, it is important to view our livestream in this season as a temporary concession, rather than the creation of an ongoing convenience. Yes, it is convenient, but not all conveniences are good for our souls in the long term. We can thank God for modern technology (and we do, especially right now) even while recognizing its limitations. Physically gathering matters—after all, Jesus promised to be with us when we do (Mt. 18:20). But, right now, we can’t. So, how do we make the most of this temporary concession?

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF A LIVESTREAM GATHERING

(1) PRAY

Ask the Lord to give you a soft, humble, and hungry heart before we gather-while-scattered. Spend time on Saturday evening or Sunday morning in the Word and prayer to prepare your soul for worship. Pray for the church, other members, your community and discipleship group, along with not-yet-believers who may participate. Let’s ask the Father to give us a supernatural sense of unity even while being spread throughout the city. Who knows how he might use all of this? Let’s pray in faith, hope, and love.

(2) FIND A SPECIFIC PLACE

Be intentional about where in your home you will participate. Don’t leave that decision to the last minute. If possible, I recommend participating from the place in which you spend your daily time with the Lord. That space probably already has a sense of set-apart-ness to it that will help facilitate your worship.

(3) PREPARE

Also, consider how you might intentionally prepare for worship. Fight the temptation to see “online church” as a mere convenience by preparing in advance and arriving on time. The livestream will be up at least 15 minutes before worship begins. Work through any potential technology issues. Decide, in advance, how will you participate—phone, laptop, SmartTV? Have your Bible close at hand. Print the Sunday handout, which will be available at least one hour before we begin.

(4) REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

We all know that it can be a challenge to remain undistracted at home. There are projects to do, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, bills to pay, and cleaning to be done. If your household has kids, there is the added layer of toys, craft supplies, and random socks lying around. Even more, our phone is innocently resting on the end table wooing us to check “just this one time.” But, put it all away. Clean up the space. Commit, along with those you’re gathering with, to set apart this time for Jesus and one another.

(5) PARTICIPATE

The primary way to keep the livestream an act of worship, rather than consumption, is to actively participate. So, when we stand, let’s stand together. When we sing, let’s sing together. When we recite the call to worship or assurance or commission, let’s recite the scripture out-loud. Remember, our livestream is in fact live. It is not a recording. You are not alone, even if you are alone in your living room. Envision hundreds of DCC households, united in spirit, worshipping throughout the city—its a powerful image.

(6) INVITE

If you have space in your home to uphold the current public health order, especially the call to social distancing, you may want to consider inviting a few friends to join you for worship.

Lord willing, we will be able to gather unhindered soon. Until then, let’s not neglect meeting together, even under non-ideal circumstances (Heb. 10:25). Let’s be salt and light in our city (Mt. 5:13-16). The Lord is at hand, so we don’t need to be anxious (Phil. 4:5-6). This will pass and then the next trial will come. In the hands of our good God, every trial tests the genuineness of our faith, which is more precious than gold, so that it might result in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). He is faithful; he will do it (1 Thess. 5:24).

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

P.S. Two final notes:
1) Please do not come to the church’s building on Sunday.
2) We will be rolling out a plan for what it means to be the church throughout the week very soon.

Mar 11
2020

Changes Due To Government Covid-19 Restrictions

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

The spread of Covid-19 continues so we, therefore, continue to adapt.

NEW RESTRICTIONS

This morning, the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, announced a ban on events of more than 250 people in the Seattle metro area. Additionally, the King County Executive, Dow Constantine, issued a separate public health order that prohibits gatherings of less than 250 people unless certain stringent requirements are met, including:

  • High-risk individuals do not attend (over 60 years old, pregnant, underlying health issues, etc.).
  • Social distancing measures are enforced (including being within six feet of others for ten minutes or longer).
  • Employees must be screened for Covid-19 symptoms each day.
  • Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available.

The first three of these requirements would be difficult—if not impossible—to enforce, especially the social distancing. This means, legally, we are unable to gather because we cannot comply with the public health order. We are not alone. There is a long list of other Seattle organizations canceling events, including Seattle Public Schools.

OUR RESPONSE

Therefore, we will be adapting in the following ways:

#1 SUNDAY

Starting this Sunday we will move our public gatherings to one gathering via livestream at 10am. In other words, beginning this Sunday, we will not publicly gather at our building until we are legally permitted to do so. However, we will continue to gather online via livestream. A small team (staff, strategic volunteers, deacons, and elders) will be at the building to lead the gathering, from singing to preaching. Rather than record the 9am gathering and re-play it at 11am, we will hold one live gathering at 10am. Please note the time change and spread the word.

#2 COMMUNITIES

As of today, all formal Cornerstone Community gatherings are canceled.

#3 CLASSES

As of today, all classes are canceled.

#4 EVENTS

  • Taking the Gospel to the Nations, March 21st: We will postpone this event to a later date.
  • Members Meeting, March 29th: We will either cancel or create a livestream option. Stay tuned.
  • DCC’s 9th birthday, April 5th: TBD
  • Good Friday and Easter, April 10th-12th: TBD

#5 MEETINGS

If you have a meeting scheduled with a staff member or pastor, be sure to double-check before meeting.

AND THEY WERE ALL SCATTERED…

While we grieve with those who have lost loved ones amidst the spread of Covid-19, we can trust that God is at work in significant ways behind the scenes. Do you remember what caused the gospel to spread in the early church? Persecution. “There arose…a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions…” (Acts 8:1). The very thing that was meant to stamp out Jesus’ cause, was used by God to further spread it to the nations. What man intended for evil, God intended for good (Gen. 50:20). While the details of our particular situation are unique, the principle isn’t. If he did that then, what might he be up to now? Let’s keep trusting him together. More soon…

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

Mar 6
2020

Covid-19 Update and This Sunday

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

We thought it would be helpful to send another brief note prior to our Sunday gathering. We are still planning to gather and continue our series through Romans unless circumstances change dramatically. I encourage you to read my post from earlier this week, if you haven’t already, which describes our plan to mitigate the potential spread of Covid-19—though we have made a few additional changes since then.

WHY WE GATHER

The regular gathering of Jesus’ people to sing, pray, and preeminently sit under God’s Word is the most important means of grace in a Christian’s life. The word for church in Greek literally means “assembly, or congregation.” In Christ, we now belong to Jesus’ people, universal and local. That means Sunday is the one time during the week where we get to physically live out this shared identity. Therefore, gathering on the Lord’s Day, Sunday, has been integral to Jesus’ people from the very beginning.

IS ANYONE ELSE GATHERING?

However, we won’t be the only ones gathering. The Seattle school district is still in session. The Sounders are playing on Saturday. Concerts are still happening throughout the city. Museums and tourist attractions are still open. My oldest has a junior high basketball game on Saturday. Life goes on, even with more hand-washing and avoidance of touching your face.

WHEN NOT TO GATHER

However, in alignment with CDC guidelines, we do encourage you to stay home if:

  • You, or a family member, has a cough, fever, or other respiratory difficulties (i.e. you’re sick).
  • You are over 60 years old (a population particularly susceptible to Covid-19)
  • You have underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease, or a weakened immune system.
  • Or, you are pregnant.

Remaining home under such circumstances is not evidence of a lack of faith, but prudential wisdom.

A TEMPORARY SOLUTION (LIVE STREAMING)

In light of the present circumstance, we will be offering a temporary live-streaming option of our gathering. You will be able to access the live stream from our webpage or this link. While we don’t believe merely viewing a church gathering online constitutes “gathering” with the church, it is better than non-attendance or listening to a recorded sermon later. We will evaluate the extent to which we will continue to offer this option as the situation develops.

WHEN WE GATHER

Therefore, here are a few notes for when we gather this Sunday:

  • Don’t give into fear, just be smart.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. New stations have already been installed.
  • Work on your elbow-bump or foot-tap welcome (!)
  • We will not have a designated meet-and-greet.
  • For increased sanitation, communion will temporarily consist of separate cups.

Let’s continue to pray: for the sick, for the fearful, for salvations, and for the glory of God to shine brightly. Amidst an uncertain world, He alone is certain: “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress: I shall not be greatly shaken” (Ps. 62:2). The mission continues. Let’s be humble, wise, and courageous as we follow him together.

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

P.S. Don’t forget this Sunday, March 8, is Daylight Saving Time. #springforward