Church Like Never Before!
The above phrase is a theme for this fall that I have borrowed from a congregation that is being served by a classmate of mine. The theme is very appropriate for our situation and congregations everywhere. We are venturing into uncharted waters, and not by our desire but by the circumstances that are beyond our control, but not beyond God’s control, and so we are experiencing “Church, like never before!” We are in a new reality in the year 2020 and though we long for a sense of normalcy, I believe we will feel the effects of this pandemic for a long time, even if we soon have a vaccine or therapeutic treatment.
I am encouraged how the staff, leadership, and members of our congregation have adjusted and adapted to the changes that we must make in order to continue to share the love of Christ in our congregation and community. Let me give you some examples:
The sewing ladies continue to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Some meet at St. John’s while others work at home. These quilts are very much in need throughout the world especially given the pandemic and the continued conflicts around the globe.
Our Christian Education Committee has established an online Sunday School program where materials are sent home and families can safely participate together in the spiritual development of their children.
The Hand Bell Choir has been organized and performed last month under the direction of David Freeman. Right now they are struggling to position as many ringers as possible during performances while still maintaining physical distancing.
Broadcasting worship services continues and will do so for the foreseeable future. Viewership remains strong. In person worship services are going well with people registering prior to the service in order not to exceed the maximum number of members allowed in the sanctuary at one time. We are working hard so that everyone who wants to attend worship in person can. We have added an additional service that will take place on Wednesday evenings at 7pm. This is when the worship service that is broadcasted on Sundays is recorded. It is the same service with the same music, scriptures, prayers, and message.
Yes, this is Church like never before. But as Christians of the Lutheran tradition, this is a part of our DNA. The Reformation was a new beginning for the Church. Things were not the same when Luther unknowing started the Reformation. It was a time of great change like today is a time of great change for us. Let us like God’s people throughout history, when faced with change, trust in God’s unchanging love for us and face the future with courage and hope.