“Since I’ve NOT pastored people through a pandemic before, I don’t know all the answers.
But I’m paying attention to science and praying for wisdom.
Together, we’ll find courage, be patient, consider the least of these, and
press onward while loving our neighbors.”
— Rev. Leslie, a colleague of Michael’s
We’re going to have to use all this hand-washing for prayer if we’re going to stick together, church — even when we can’t touch, and need to stay 6 feet apart, or are quarantined at home…
The Elders have decided there should not be a corporate worship service at church this Sunday. Instead, we will worship from our homes; we hope to gather in spirit at 11.
Tomorrow evening, Saturday, you will receive a message from the church, with an interactive order of service. That service will include holy words but also links to a video homily from Michael as well as Scripture read by other Old Firsters. It will also include A Time with the Children.
There will be music too. And a confession. As well as a Psalm to read and an affirmation of faith.
The service will end with prayers. You may pray for the people on our prayer list (which will be included in the order of service) There will also be thematic prayer prompts. Finally, if you are feeling really “brave new world,” you can join a Zoom video call — where you will see other Old Firsters live, and we can share our prayers as well as check in with one another. (The article right below this one offers help on downloading Zoom. The rest of the instructions will be in tomorrow’s order of service.)
You can worship alone or with family. The service asks you to prepare a holy place, create your own altar so you might want to look at those instructions on Saturday night so you are prepared for Sunday morning. (But don’t peak at the videos.)
This is just our first attempt at worshiping together from different locations. If the need lasts awhile, we might get pretty sophisticated at it. Can you imagine a whole worship service live via Zoom, where we really are together — at least virtually — even when we are apart?
The Elders have determined other precautions for our church community in the shadow of the coronavirus. As a faith community, we have to meet our public health responsibility, but we also owe particular care to the most vulnerable.*
The Elders are organizing us to be intentional and consistent about staying in touch with one another during this time when we won’t be at church. There are already ideas about fellowship and support “at a distance,” using phone trees, conference and video calls, prayer partners and small groups. The Elders also want to encourage the people of the church to help one another through this — we’re going to need good neighbors. No one needs to feel left out.
(Though many of these innovations involve use of internet technology, we are also updating our list of “hard-mail only” folks, to stay in touch with everyone, and to make calls when necessary.)
The Elders have also:
~ postponed the remainder of the Lenten Dinners.
~ asked that all meetings, Christian ed. gatherings and fellowship groups begin using the church’s Zoom account for either conference calls or video calls.
If Jesus broke the law to heal the sick on the Sabbath,
shouldn’t the church be willing to change its Sundays and other ways of doing things
for people’s health and well-being, particularly the most vulnerable?
Blessed be the ties that bind us to God and to one another,
Bobbie Benjamin and Julie Steiner, Co-Moderators for the Elders Michael Caine, Pastor
*The Elders recognize the men in our shelter and Saturday morning guests are also among the most vulnerable. Bethesda has curtailed all volunteer and shelter dinners for the time being. The Outreach SLG is struggling to figure out how to offer food and clothes on Saturday morning in the current situation. Your prayers and assistance are welcome…