When your pastors chose “wilderness” as our Lenten theme, we never could have predicted the ways in which this theme would relate to the increasing uncertainty about the coronavirus (COVID-19). Effective immediately, our church building will be closed at least through March 27th. This means that we will not worship in person this Sunday, March 15th, or March 22nd, and all church events, activities and rehearsals scheduled through the 27th are cancelled. The crumb pie and Easter candy sales are also cancelled.
We are faced with the unique challenges and opportunities of being church to one another beyond the church walls. In wilderness times, we have to show up for one another. We are called to take care of those around us who are vulnerable - including those who are threatened by illness. Some friends and loved ones in our midst are experiencing fear, anxiety and loneliness at this time. May we consider how God calls us to show up for others all the time, but especially in difficult times. May we remember that there is no wilderness where God is not!
You may have heard that we are encouraged to practice “social distancing,” which is the idea that by reducing physical person to person contact, we are able to slow down the spread of the virus. Social distancing does not mean that we cannot practice spiritual closeness. Here are some ways we can practice spiritual closeness even as we physically distance ourselves from one another over these next two weeks:
1. Tune in online. Every day
that the church is closed, the pastors will share ”Words for the Wilderness” via email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use this technology to connect with one another and continue to grow in faith. Be sure to reach out to church friends who do not use computers.
2. Pray. Pray for your pastors and church leaders as we work together to make decisions on behalf of our whole church. Pray for all those directly or indirectly affected by this virus. Pray for those who still need to show up to work. Pray for those who have been told, “Don’t come to work” and are not getting paid. Pray for those who do not have the resources to stay home from work when they are sick or when their children do not have school. Pray for healthcare workers and those on the front lines of caring for the sick.
3. Be gentle with yourselves and one another. We are navigating an unknown wilderness. Each of us has our own thoughts and feelings about this, and it is good of us to give each other patience and grace. Together, we will rely on information from the scientific community, our government officials and our faith leaders. May we remember that none of this is ours to carry alone, and that we are being carried by our loving God.
4. Practice generosity
. Reach out to a neighbor who may need help getting groceries or supplies. Check on a homebound church member who may be isolated. Give financially to support our shared ministry. Consider making a gift on our website by clicking here
. By the grace of God, may this time be remembered as much for its generosity as its uncertainty.
Please know that your pastors and church leaders stand ready to offer emotional and spiritual support to those who are facing challenges. We may be experiencing a “wilderness time,” but we are not alone. May you feel surrounded with the love, peace and comfort of our loving God and church family.
Grace and Peace,
Pastors Cecilia & Jameson
P.S. As this is a fluid situation, check your email for additional updates in the weeks ahead.