Tami and I were interviewed by a Presbyterian News Service reporter recently because he saw the picture of our sanctuary and the pictures on the pews of many of you. We’d love to have more pictures. We can’t promise that you’ll be placed in “your pew,” but we’ll add you to the room. We love seeing you there. That’s what we told the reporter. The church is made up of people, we said, and there is a certain spirit in our church, especially when we are together, that we greatly appreciate and deeply miss right now as we practice physical distancing.
We also told the reporter that the pictures speak about a hope we have. We hope to be together soon. “Don’t neglect the gathering,” the author of The Book of Hebrews wrote. I’m sure he would have added, “unless there is a coronavirus, and it is healthier and safer to stay home for a time.” But, people of faith are meant to gather. We are made for community. Growing in faith is meant to be done together, and can’t be fully realized without the experience, the mentoring, the nurturing of other Christian people gathered together.
Even still, Tami and I are grateful for how much you have adapted to ministry online. It is heart-warming to hear how you are sharing our worship services with family and friends whose own churches aren’t open or online. We are thankful for a staff who are working to make sure that you stay informed about our ministry and thinking about ways to connect and grow and do ministry. It’s fun to see people doing online Bible studies, especially those who thought they couldn’t do so. It’s a blessing to be able to share our ministry with many in need, be it prayer, food, or phone calls.
All of this tells me that “cancelled” and “closed” are not in our vocabulary. Instead, we have adapted to the situation with online community to maintain and live our core values of love and grace, hope and faith and our commitment to be connected and a community for one another and this world. This adaptation has not come without loss. The situation in our world right now is a constant reminder of that. Jobs. Income. Closeness. Health. Even, life itself. This virus is truly disrupting life and even seems to be defining it.
It is very appropriate that we enter Holy Week in the midst of all of this. We journey with Jesus into his suffering and death, experiences that by all accounts defined and ended his ministry and life. But, the good news is that death wasn’t the final word on him, any more than COVID-19 is the final word on us. It is in the midst of suffering and death that God raised Jesus to new life. That good news defines us more than this moment. It shapes who we are and how we live as people of faith. It’s why we have gathered before this moment and, by faith, can live through this moment. Our lives are not our own. We, like Jesus, trust in God, even when, especially when we do not know what the future holds or how life will turn out.
That good news is why we are a church today and why we have a ministry during this time of disruption, confusion and fear. We are called to point beyond ourselves to the good news and hope of our faith, Jesus Christ, the one who suffered, died and was raised to new life.
We hope you will join us for the study, Entering the Passion, starting Sunday at 6pm and happening each day to aid our journey through Holy Week. We also hope you will join us for worship online, Palm Sunday (10:45am), Maundy Thursday (7:30pm), Good Friday (7:30pm), and Easter Sunday (6:15 & 10:45am). We continue to worship, we continue to serve, we continue to be community, not by our own efforts, but because we are called and empowered by God with good news to share.
Sharing Good News Together,