Slideshow image

June 23, 2020

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For three months we have been living in the “time of covid-19.” So much of our daily lives has been turned upside down – travel, medical appointments, exercise, entertainment, even grocery shopping. New routines have been developed despite the tedium of this new way of doing things (or not doing things, as the case may be.) And we eagerly await the time when things can return to “normal.”

For many of us, our time on our church campus is very important part of our “normal.” We gather Sunday mornings for worship and fellowship. There are the many volunteer activities over the week – from accounting for the offering to assembling the many items for social service agencies in our community to our monthly meals together such as “Saints Alive.” Tending our gardens. Setting the Holy Table. We miss all of this and yearn for the time when we can do this again.

In March, when Council decided to suspend in-person gatherings, we expected that it would be for a relatively brief period and that then we would be back to “normal.” Of course, that has not been the case. Weeks have stretched into months as the toll that this pandemic has exacted continues to mount. And this week we have seen some of the most serious spikes in the number of new cases and other metrics such as testing positivity rates. At its monthly meeting last week, Council determined that it was too soon to resume Sunday worship and other activities on our campus, particularly in light of the demographics of our worshipping community. This is disappointing to us all.

So where does this leave us? Please remember that the Church is not closed. The Church is not a building, it is a community of the faithful. And the faithful of Grace Lutheran Church are actively living out our faith as we care for one another, worship in a new way on Sunday mornings, pray for each other every day, read the Holy Scriptures, call and check-in on each other.

We have been blessed with technology that makes this time apart less onerous. We have the benefit of phones we carry with us, email by which we can receive messages almost instantaneously, and internet resources to stay in touch. Every Thursday at 5:30 pm, Evening Prayer will be offered live on Facebook. It is recorded for those who cannot join the live offering and can be accessed by those not on Facebook.

A few days ago, we had a “fellowship hour” using Zoom which is a video conferencing
application. Approximately twenty of us gathered in front of our computer monitors or laptops
or tablets or even a Kindle and shared joys and concerns and laughter. We will do this again on
July 11th at 10:30. (We had planned on doing this every couple of weeks but given the Fourth of
July holiday, we moved it out a week.) Some of this technology can be a bit overwhelming but
with a bit of practice, the hiccups are reduced. We’re here to help, if this is new to you.

So what is next, you may wonder. Council authorized the formation of a task force to consider
the many matters attendant to resuming our worship on Sunday mornings. That task force will
make recommendations to Council on when to return to our campus and what
accommodations will be needed to do so safely. That task force has been created and is
preparing to meet in the near future. We are also considering other ways that we can engage in
Bible Study and other aspects of Christian education and faith formation. We’ll have more
about this in the coming weeks.

I know these days are difficult. I pray for you continually and covet your prayers as well. As we
have heard said so many times in recent weeks – “We’re all in this together!” And this has
special meaning for us, the very Body of Christ in the world.

Hear these words of the prophet Isaiah, spoken to the people who were in exile in Babylon – a
long way from all that was familiar.

The Lord is the everlasting God,
        The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not fain or grow weary;
        His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
        And strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
        And the young will fall exhausted;
But those who wait for the Lord shall
        Renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
        They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
                                                            Isaiah 40:28b – 31

In Christ’s enduring love,
Pastor Pam