Recently, I read a blog suggesting five ways we may remain the church even without the ability to gather together in the same physical space, and I would like to share those with you as well:
1) Pray for your church leadership and for me. I have been monitoring the news as well information from our County Health Department and am working to be both as proactive and supportive of our community as possible. There are no easy decisions here. Please pray for God’s peace and guidance as your leadership and I traverse this time together. Also, please pray for the area pastors who will be gathering on March 17 to learn how faith communities can help our county health department flatten the curve while providing spiritual care to our residents and communities.
2) Send in your offerings. Although our building will be empty, we still have ongoing maintenance expenses. In addition, it is our intention to pay our staff during the next two weeks as if they were present in the building and working there. Each offering you send in allows us as a faith community to honor the commitment to our mission and ministries.
3) Check on your neighbors. Consider reaching out to 5 people a day by phone, email, text, written note, or Facebook Messenger. It may not replace face to face fellowship, but this practice will keep you connected to one another and possibly to others outside of our church community. Also, if you or someone you know need groceries, please contact me. I go to the grocery store 1-2 times per week and would be happy to pick up something for you.
4) Pray for your church family. Each week, I invite you to contact me with any prayers of joy or concern you would like shared during worship. During our on-line worship service, I will offer prayers for those requests that have been made so that we all may remain united in Christ as we pray for and with one another.
5) Practice Sabbath. This is an anxiety-producing time, a time in which the ways we normally escape stress and anxiety (going to the gym, eating out, going to movies, watching sports) has been closed to us. Take a day out of your week to strengthen your relationship with your families and with God: read together, prepare meals together (prepare a meal to leave at your neighbor’s door), binge watch your favorite show together. Talk to each other; play games; make crafts; listen to music. Find the way you best connect with God and your family and take time to do that.
In these uncertain times, I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures and one of my favorite creeds: “for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” While we ought not be fearful, we certainly ought to be vigilant out of concern for one another and for all of those in our healthcare workforce. Let us live as the light and salt of Christ in these uncertain days, and may these words from “A Statement of Faith of The United Church of Canada” also unite us as one body of Christ.
We are not alone, we live in God’s world.
We believe in God:
Who has created and is creating,
Who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
To reconcile and make new,
Who works in us and others by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the church:
To celebrate God’s presence,
To love and serve others,
To seek justice and resist evil,
To proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
Our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God. Amen.