“Physically Distant; Spiritually Close; Faithfully Active”
a note from Pastor John
Wednesday, 20 May 2020
May grace and peace be yours even in — especially in — the pandemic that has reshaped our lives. I pray daily that you are managing as well as can be, that you’re finding the companionship and support and Spirit you need to keep on keeping on. For some of us this time is a manageable challenge, for some it is terrifying, and for many we swing between those extremes.
“When will church resume?”
Some form of that question rises daily. The first thing to let you know is that the Congregational Church of Salisbury will have no physical meetings until further notice. At the same time, our ministries continue: we are worshiping on Zoom and YouTube Live; our Boards of Deacons, Trustees, and Christian Action have been meeting regularly to support our church and our wider community; I hold morning prayer every weekday at 8am on the Church’s Facebook page; Barbara Collins provides excellent Christian education materials for families to use at home.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut government maintains its restriction on worship of more than 50 persons until June 20th (portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus). And last week, the Southern New England Conference of the UCC released their strong recommendation that churches should plan to worship and meet online at least through the end of the summer (www.sneucc.org/phasingforward).
“Why can’t we meet?”
In that poignant question I hear a longing for a return to something approaching “normality,” and for reconnecting with dear friends in a Meetinghouse made holy by many lifetimes of shared prayer, grieving, and rejoicing.
Yet for the time being, there is no way to gather safely. We could meet the requirement to constantly disinfect surfaces. With effort, we could provide masks and gloves. But we would also need to keep our distance from one another and use the masks and gloves constantly. There could be no hymn singing, since we have learned that singing dramatically increases the spread of the virus. No communion; no bulletins passed from one hand to another; no offering given or received; no childcare; no handshake or hug in greeting; no fellowship hour. For the time being, and for the well-being of all, worship as we have known it before the health crisis is unavailable to us.
And yet the church of Jesus Christ is as open today as it has ever been. We will keep “Zooming in” for prayer, reflection, and renewal. We’ll keep on discovering new ways of worshiping and supporting one another. We will keep on living out our mission to rejoice in the God’s astounding work of love and to serve our neighbors in the power of that love.
Right now, in the midst of this terrifying pandemic, we can hear the holy call to mourn the dead, to labor for the safety and wholeness of the living, and to return to the deepest tradition of God’s people: daring to trust in the power of shalom while everything around us changes. About three millennia ago Isaiah spoke God’s prophetic words: “I am doing a new thing; do you not perceive it?” God’s shalom is always a new thing in our midst: calling us to learn and grow, sustaining us when we are weary.
I pray you and yours are well, body and soul. If you are not well, or need help, please let me know. And know that you remain in my prayers.