Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
As I write this, the weather feels different everyday. It is either spitting snow, or the sun is shining so brightly, the sky is bright blue, and my husband has just finished mowing the lawn. Springtime in New York is always crazy for me. You don’t know what you’re going to get from one day to the next!
But doesn’t that describe our very existence in some ways? As we sit inside our homes, waiting to hear more news, things just don’t seem to change much, but we don’t know what may be coming our way next. I think the biggest question on everyone’s mind is when will things get back to normal? When we will return to school and work? When will stores open up? And when will we return to church?
I so wish I had the gift of prophecy, but alas, I don’t. So I don’t have the faintest idea when we can all come together again, worship in the same room, sing hymns and pray together, and share in the Lord’s Supper. The only thing I can say is that we will only do it when it is safe for all of us. Social distancing, hand sanitizers placed on every horizontal surface, face masks, may very well be a part of our future for a long time to come.
This all means that the coming weeks and months will probably look very different that what we are used to. And it means that many of our beloved celebrations may have to be put on hold until fall, or possibly even later. Celebrating the Graduation Milestone and our Spring Picnic may be moving to August or beyond. Confirmation may move to the fall. VBS may have to wait until next year. We will keep you apprised of all these activities as we find out what will be happening and when we are able to get back together again.
So what do we do until then? We continue being the church! We continue meeting in whatever ways we are able. Online, by telephone calls, maybe even shouting to one another through our front doors from a distance, or connecting on Zoom on Thursday and Sunday mornings at 11. We continue to grow in Christ’s love as we worship together Wednesday evenings and Sundays. We may not be in the same space, but God still gathers us as beloved children, and God’s love is ever present wherever we are. We continue to pray together on Sunday mornings at 9:30 and Wednesday evenings at 7. We still continue to be immersed in God’s Word as we deepen our faith journeys with Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at 11, and Sunday School on Sunday mornings at 9:30.
So what have we learned from this experience? We’ve learned that we are connected. And that we need one another. We have learned that there are many ways to serve those around us. We’ve learned that prayer connects us. We’ve learned that the church is much bigger than the space the building occupies at 131 West Main Street. We’ve learned that fear, and sadness, and regret, and longing, are normal. And that right alongside the dark times are times of joy as we remember that Christ is risen, and Christ is loose in the world, and that Christ’s love will sustain and gather us and bring us peace. To put it succinctly, we’ve learned love – the love God has for each of us and the love we have for one another.
The days and weeks and most likely even months ahead will not be easy. We will face challenges as we strive to be the people of God. We will struggle with the new realities of living in the midst of a pandemic. We will have moments of fear and sadness and grief. But we also know that Jesus is working through his Church wherever you are! The Church in your family room or around your kitchen table. The Church that surrounds you as you go on your daily walks. The Church that accompanies you when you go out for groceries wearing a mask and aware of keeping the proper distance from those around you. The Church that we celebrate when we are together with others and the Church we celebrate when we are alone. We are the Church! And we will continue to be the Church! Through this strange time and beyond. God’s presence will always be with us! As I’ve said so many times in the past weeks, our name says it all – We embody Immanuel – God With Us!
May you be safe, know peace, and feel the presence of our loving God as he wraps arms of grace around you today and always!