April 26, 2020 – Third Sunday of Easter
Devotion & Prayer Thought
The very first thing I wrote about all this was, “we are all going to get this”. And I think this is still the great unexpressed truth. Yes, all might be an over expression as herd immunity is reached somewhere around 60% around which it becomes harder to push it higher, but close enough. Then when you realize that this is really SARS-2, SARS-1 was also a corona virus, and that there is not a vaccine for SARS-1, and that these types of viruses return yearly, and that while your immune system maintains some recognition we can get the flu each year because of small mutations…saying that we are all going to get this still feels right. This is now a fact of life more like what polio used to be if nowhere near a deadly, although dangerous enough. And being a fact of life means that it is not really a physical problem but a spiritual one.
The 23rd Psalm always contained two lines that caused us post-Salk folks to scratch their heads. “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and “prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Constant opposition requiring perseverance is not our felt experience. Without downgrading our suffering, simply because it is still ours, it has been different than folks in most times and places who experienced physical risk all the time. And we are completely unprepared spiritually for this reality. We are using muscles that haven’t been flexed in a couple generations. And part of this is adapting to the reality that this virus may simply be the restoration of the pre-Salk situation. Even if we do develop a vaccine, is it not likely to be like the current vaccines for flu -vaguely effective, but it keeps coming back? Not Salk like?
So part of the Spiritual task before us is to restore perseverance. The new normal really isn’t what our “experts” think about. Dramatic changes to ways of life. The new normal is more akin to the Cold War. Yes, nuclear bombs could be here in 20 mins. But only unstable neurotics focused on that constantly. The rest of us lived with it. We walked through the valley. That is what we are relearning in the face of a virus. It is going to take some longer than others. Many have zero spiritual resources to do this.
It requires faith. A faith in the benevolent providence of God, even when seated in front of your enemies. A faith that God intends good. “Goodness and mercy will follow all the days of our life.” Even as death stalks the valley. And a faith that this existence is a preparation. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
We have lived in a time theologically focused on love. And Paul does say the greatest of these is love. But love is the great eschatological virtue. Today, it abides though faith and hope. Faith and hope to keep walking. To dine in the face of your enemies knowing that “bane or blessing by his cross are sanctified. Peace there is that knows no measure. Joys that through all time abide.”
So, knowing fully that many aren’t there, I’m still going to open a conversation of what things look like as we make baby steps out of our frozen fear. The first thing is the recognition that we are not all going to become unfrozen at the same rate and pace. Like the old sodium lights, you can turn them off and they went off, but turning them on took some time to warm up. And that is fine, because we have to learn to walk this together. Also, I’m not putting hard dates on anything here, because I don’t know that yet, and some of that depends upon politics.
There are two particular baby steps I want to think about. The first is the streaming of worship. This is something we originally did out of necessity. I think it is going to be something we keep. We are going to keep it for the immediate future because of different rates of people becoming comfortable gathering. I think we are going to keep it for the longer future because there are those who can’t be present. I have been heartened to see so many names and faces pop up on the screen over these Sundays. This is something that we can do to walk together. The second baby step I want to start thinking about is returning to regular worship schedule. For the immediate future, the two times divide us nicely to abide by the 10 people and 6 ft guidelines. I don’t know if those get extended by the Governor, but right now May 15th is the extent of his guidelines. Sometime after that resuming a unified 10 AM service would seem correct.
There are other mileposts: the Lord’s Supper, Confirmation/Pentecost, Choir. Those will come. But today, baby steps thinking together.
- Thurs 10am: Roughly the same as worship, if you wish to be here, up to our normal 3-4, fine. If our bible study gets crowded all of a sudden, I will throw you out! If you want to join on the Zoom line (same as the worship one) I’ll be logging that in. We were prepared to read Zephaniah before all this. It is strangely apt.
Year 1: We are meeting on zoom for the time being.3PM Tuesdays.Lord’s Prayer.We will be working through the worksheet as I share my screen.Please bring your catechism and a bible.
Year 2: Thursdays at 3:30PM on zoom.We are looking at the final review.Right now, confirmation proper is still scheduled for Pentecost, which is May 31st.I’m hoping that we will be open by then.And I’m working on what to do about the traditional elder board review of confirmands.Watch here.
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Please join us!
Meeting Thurs. April 30th , on Zoom
Until we are back to regular worship schedule, we are foregoing the Lord’s Supper. If you desire the sacrament in the meantime, private confession and the sacrament are available by talking with pastor.
Worship will continue to be as per the last month. 9AM and 11AM. The bulletin will be posted online. The service will be streamed on zoom. The doors will be open. We’ve had about 10 present, every family in their own pew, with plenty of distance. Any choice is left to Christian Freedom. Neither way is better or worse. One big ask, if you have any prayer requests, please send them to pastor, or use the zoom chat line early to send them in. I’ve got David monitoring Zoom, but to ensure we have good audio means that I’m usually away from the screen.
Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288
BEEF ON WECK … May 23rd … save the date!
In order to accommodate our new normal, we are setting up the Spring Beef on Weck as a DRIVE THRU. This means that people will arrive in their cars, place their order and pay all while remaining in their cars. Their order will be packed up and brought out to them. Our workers will wear masks and social distancing will be applied in all possible situations. If you would like to help please contact Mindy (489-4972) or Ellen (201-0756).