March 17, 2020
It certainly feels like it didn’t take too long for the world, as we know it, to change dramatically. “Social distancing” is the call of the day during this time of Covid-19. Newsfeeds and Facebook posting give all sorts of advice about how to protect ourselves and others by keeping a distance, wearing gloves, staying home, etc. There are plenty of postings about what resources to buy at the store so we don’t have to go to the store (wink, wink). Gatherings of 50 are now considered to be too many, so gatherings of 10 seems acceptable – but only if we stand 6 feet apart from each other. There is still so much we don’t know about this virus, but taking care of ourselves by limiting exposure is not a bad thing.
Public venues and sports arenas are closing. Schools in most states are not holding in-person classes. Many restaurants are closing or reducing hours, or providing pick-up only services. Countries are closing borders. All of this is being done in the hope to keep people healthy and save lives, and keep exposure down. This is not a bad thing.
So what about places of worship that are often the go-to place in times of crises? At First Christian Church our emergency response is not to cancel church – but to offer a new way of being church during this time. For the next two weeks, and perhaps longer if need be, worship will still begin at 10:15 am via Facebook live. Connect to our FCCLC Facebook page and we will be transported into the sanctuary.
To keep exposure down, only three people will be allowed in the sanctuary during this time – Eric and Scott Hays-Strom for setting up the technical support to be able to broadcast the service live, providing worship leadership, and the preacher – this week will be Rev. Patrick Crocker, and Rev. Ron Broker on March 29th. (I was to be in Guatemala from March 21-29th so my being absent had already been planned for. This trip has been postponed until the Fall.)
This is certainly a challenging time for all of us. With social media, however, we can still remain connected as we suspend in-person gatherings. Social distancing (I prefer the term, physical distancing) does not necessarily mean social isolation. We can pick up our phones, send emails and texts as we check in with neighbors, friends, loved ones as a way to stay connected.
At First Christian Church we have already incorporated the use of Zoom meetings for conversations that are needed. This process allows us to see each other even though we are not in the same room. Not perfect, but it works well these days.
We are all walking through uncharted territories and trying to figure it out as we move along. Mistakes will be made, opportunities missed, but I think one of the things we need to remember is that we are all trying to do the best we can during these unique and challenging days. Staying safe and providing opportunities for worship, and not being exposed to potential health risks is a priority.
There are still many things we can do. We do not need to be inside 24/7 during this time. It is really ok to get out and go for a walk or a hike. Maybe get to a trail we’ve been wanting to try for a while, or walk in a different neighborhood than we are familiar with. Many places are offering virtual tours via Facebook and there are always movies we can now watch from the comfort of our own homes. We can also do lots more on-line shopping (wink, wink). Humor helps as does prayer.
I close with the following prayer and the 23rd Psalm:
Compassionate One, whether together or in Holy Isolation, you are always with us. Help us to move from fear to hope as your faithful people. We give you our thanks for all the ways you love us and we are grateful for your faithful presence in our lives. Today we ask for your light and love to surround us and comfort us.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Amen.