July 2020 Pastor's Column - Serving Amid the Pandemic

July 2020 Pastor's Column - Serving Amid the Pandemic

If we have to go through a pandemic, I am glad to be surrounded by people like you!

You continue to love and support one another. Your encouragement to me is priceless. You are faithfully supporting the financial needs of our congregation. It is wonderful to be part of the ways you have met practical needs such as deliveries of toilet paper and food, driving each other to doctor appointments, and running errands. It is wonderful to hear how much your phone calls, emails, and notes mean to each other. We remain connected, even though we may be separated by distance and disease.

As I was sitting to down to write this, I re-read my column from last month, and I would like to repeat the first paragraph because it remains true.

Like you, I dearly miss gathering in worship, fellowship, and service. I long for hugging everyone in the room, sitting shoulder to shoulder at potlucks, and to be part of bringing food to hungry people on the street. My heart aches, I miss being with you so much!

Our session is seeking God’s direction on when and how we can gather again. In the face of the significant rise in the number of infections, they recently decided to wait a couple more weeks to better understand what is happening. I know many of you are ready to restart immediately and pick up where we left off, and I wish we can. Particularly when you take into account what a loving and hugging group we are, together with the ages and health of so many people we love, I think it was the right decision, but it is a hard decision and I applaud the heart, prayer, and honesty each elder brought to the discussion.

Just today I heard about another church in our presbytery that encountered a very real situation that you want to avoid, but you can’t eliminate. They resumed worshipping two weeks ago with many of the common requirements of wearing masks and distance, only to find out today that one of their staff members who helped lead worship had been previously exposed to a person who just tested positive. It is likely that nothing will come from it, but they are closing down for at least two weeks, and are having conversations about waiting far longer. I pray that everyone affected will remain healthy.

None of us have done this before and nobody knows the “right” thing to do. We can only pray, research, and discuss, trusting God to lead us. There is an old song about the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness, where God tells them to “take another lap around Mt Sinai until they learn their lesson.” While there are lessons to be learned from what feels like a time in the wilderness, unlike the Hebrews in the song, I believe our opportunity is to remain strong in our love for the Lord and each other, and to continue to minister to others in Jesus’ name.