One year ago, our worlds changed. Sunday March 15, we gathered for worship as a family of faith. We sang songs, heard the Word preached and came forward to the table to share in the Lord’s meal. But there were clouds looming. We watched as Italy shut down, the pandemic ravaging the country and her people. But there was an ocean between us and somehow that made us feel safer. The disease was “over there”. Except it wasn’t. On Monday morning staff sat down and prayed. There were new health and safety guidelines. Gathering was strongly discouraged. This was unchartered water. When there is trouble, disaster, and fear, people have come TO the church. Now we were faced with the decision to close the doors to keep people safe. It felt backwards, unnatural, and wrong. People were supposed to come here for comfort. But Jesus was there.
We made the decision to shut down. If staff could work from home that was encouraged though most of us came into work every day. It felt like the world stood still. The only good thing was there was almost no traffic. Monday, March 16, 2020 we decided to close the church for public worship and by Friday staff was in the sanctuary recording services so that we could keep the family together in that way. Jesus was there. Preaching to a camera was weird at first. It felt strange looking out at the pews and seeing no familiar faces. There was no noise…no coughing or sneezing, no small children babbling. Yet the Word was preached, and music sung. And Jesus was present. He has been present through all of this.
We have learned some things this past year. We are resilient people. Life as we knew it was turned upside down. Jesus was there. Many of us had time to clean out closets, drawers, maybe even the garage. Some have caught up on reading or mending. We learned how to Zoom. And Jesus was there. We have missed out on some big occasions…birthdays, holidays, proms, graduation ceremonies and more. Worldwide over 2.5 million people have lost their lives. Countless lives have been changed. Jesus has sustained families who have been separated. He has gone in and out of hospital rooms with health care workers who have been pushed beyond their limits. He has been there in countless hospital rooms so that people did not die alone.
We are some of the most blessed people around. On May 24, 2020, one week after the governor lifted meeting bans, church leadership made the decision to resume in-person worship. We celebrated Holy Week and Easter online and now, we would gather. Face masks, social distancing, and communion outside were new but we were here…in person, together. And Jesus was with us. Now, a year later we are still worshiping in person. There is a vaccine and people are receiving shots. There is hope that soon things might return to ‘normal’, whatever that might be. We will worship in person for Holy Week and Easter this year. The shouts of “He Is Risen” will have never sounded so sweet. And Jesus will be there.
There is a theme here. Now more than ever we are reminded that Jesus has never left us. He has been in the middle of every part of the pandemic. He has brought us peace, comfort, and hope when the world looked dark and bleak. He is the Light of the World and His light will not be overcome by darkness. Not now. Not ever. Life may not always look like we would have it look, but whatever is going on…Jesus will be there.
Palm Sunday is March 28. Worship is at 8:30am and 10:00am. Maundy Thursday is April 1 and Good Friday the next day. Worship is at 6:30pm both nights. Easter is April 4. We have 3 worship services…Sunrise at 6:15am outside and our regular services at 8:30am and 10:00am inside. It will be a great celebration. Come and join us. Jesus will be here.
In His Grip,
Pastor Matt W.