May 24, 2020
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! ~ Psalm 27:14
I think I am not alone in experiencing hearing much of scripture differently than I have pre-COVID-19. Familiar stories and verses have taken on new meaning for me – some have given me immense comfort; other passages have challenged who I understand God to be for us and for the world. So when I think about waiting, for example, I think how hard it truly is to continue to wait…for a vaccine or cure to this novel virus…for my children to go back to school so Rich and I can have at least a short break and so they can be nurtured by peer friendships and by other caring adults…for a time when I can gather safely with a wider circle of family and friends…the list can go on. We are waiting on the Lord for many things these days, and most of us are pretty tired of waiting. We’ve even developed a few new phrases for that – “Zoom fatigue” or “Quarantine fatigue.”
In this spirit of weary waiting, I want to use my article in this month’s newsletter to inform you of the planning our church council has been doing in consultation with synodical, governmental, and interfaith collegial guidelines so that we might begin to gather in-person for worship in July. While Governor Cuomo has given permission for groups of ten or fewer to gather for in-person worship, we feel it is best to wait a little while longer so we ensure that we have steps in place to protect everyone’s health and safety. We are planning our first in-person worship service on July 5 at 9am. We will continue our YouTube Livestream at 10am, and our Zoom fellowship hour for the foreseeable future. With all of our heart, soul, and mind we want to be together again for worship as it used to be, but even when we gather in person, until there is a vaccine or a cure we will not be able to worship “as normal.” We wait for the Lord, even when we don’t want to, with trust that God gives us courage, strength and hope in the waiting.
Please review the guidelines included in this newsletter from council to prepare yourselves to worship with us online for longer or in person. Please hear this clearly from me, your pastor: if you are concerned about endangering your life or someone else’s life, stay home and worship with us online or via printed materials. You are not disappointing God or me by doing so; in fact, you are following Jesus’ great commandment to love God and your neighbor as yourself. Similar to wearing a mask if you come to worship in our church building: you are loving God and your neighbor as yourself by doing so, not being disrespectful. Ask me if you need more materials to nurture your spiritual worship life at home. I would be happy to provide those to you. You are all constantly in my prayers as God continues to walk with us during this incredibly difficult time. God is with you in the waiting!