I heard a doctor from the World Health Organization reflect on his experiences in China as the nation dealt with Covid 19. His observations were then re-enforced as he saw the way other Asian nations approached the pandemic. He said what struck him was the universal understanding that personal preferences had no place in facing the challenge. People made decisions based on what was best for the community, the country, as a whole.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain asked God after slaying Abel. The answer was "YES". And God continually reminds the people that they are to be responsible for one another. "Honor your father and mother." "Do not covet. Do not slander. Do not commit murder. Do not steal." God calls us into community, That was the gift of the Exodus. They were free to form a community which was responsible to God and to one another.
Jesus continued the emphasis as he spoke of welcoming he outsiders, as he ate with sinners and tax collectors. He gave us the example of the Samaritan who was responsible for one who was, traditionally, dismissive of him.
This pandemic demands of us a broad awareness of our responsibilities to one another. We may feel powerless, yet willingly choosing distancing is a life-giving choice.
We pray, O God, for all who are sick. We remember those who are sick with the Coronavirus and those who suffer from other ailments. We pray for loved ones who watch and worry, sometimes from an enforced distance. We pray for those who are sick with fear.
Send your healing, O Lord. We remember, with thanksgiving, the ministry of your son who healed those who were sick. Give wholeness and comfort to all who struggle in this difficult time.
I have placed myself under quarantine because I came back from the conference with what I hope is merely an obnoxious cold. I see conflicting ideas of what the symptoms of COVID 19 are. Anyway, my office is, for the moment, in my home.
I will be exploring doing worship on Sunday as a live Facebook stream which is then uploaded to this website. I will strive to offer that service at 10:30 AM on Sunday, our regular time. Of course, if every church on the east coast tries to do the same thing, the system may be overwhelmed! Internet providers have indicated that they are up to the challenge, but we have to be prepared for glitches.
There are ongoing concerns that come before us as navigate these new ways of being the church. I went to the office today to change our greeting (something I couldn't do remotely, apparently) and get the password for our church email account so that I can keep in touch. When I went, I made sure to take food for our little pantry. If you run errands, please remember that little ministry! We have been told that the needs are only going to increase.
And, please remember to support the church financially. Perhaps you can arrange to pay through on-line banking, if you do that. Or send a check by mail. At the moment, Michelle still plans to be in the office on Monday and Friday mornings. I will return to the office when I am past this illness.
from Thom M. Shuman
we haven't cancelled worship
we've cancelled a religious service
at a specific time, in a specific place,
on a specific day, but folks will still
worship God when they are caring
for the grandkids and walking their dogs;
worship as they serve beside Jesus at foodbanks
and picking up groceries for a neighbor;
worship when they share the Spirit's peace
by singing songs over the phone to a parent;
worship when they work from home;
worship when they endure extra shifts
in nursing homes and group homes;
worship when they email someone far away
and wave to a stranger across the street;
worship when they take toilet paper
to a homeless shelter
and volunteer at a polling place.
we haven't cancelled worship,
just the "official" part
that may be the tallest part
of it all.