Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
Hear these words from the Through the Bible in a Year from Isaiah 35:3-7
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and
the ears of the deaf unstopped;
Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and
the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and
streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool, and
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Isaiah shares a message from God about the return of the redeemed to Zion after their exile. I don’t know about you but I feel a bit like I have been in exile. No, I didn’t get taken to another country, though it has felt as distant as one. No, I didn’t get mistreated though some days I felt as tired as if I had been. No, I didn’t starve but I sometimes ate like I had been starving. None of us have been in exile in the true sense of the word but in our absence from each other, we have certainly felt the absence from our lives of the familiar people, places and practices. There will come a day when, like the people of Zion, we will return to the familiar places and like waters in the desert, our souls will be quenched with the delight of seeing again the people God has placed in our lives.
Let me be clear though, we will have learned nothing from our experience staying safe at home during COVID-19 if we think we can simply return to our practices as they were before. We know now that we can function in the online world. We have found friends who live far from us. When we finally do return, we will be different people because of the last couple of months with different fears and anxieties as well as changes in our likes and dislikes. The world may not feel as safe as it did before and our view of touching others will have likely changed. While touching another person has always held the possibility of passing on illness to us, we simply backed off during cold and flu season but for the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a season. In order to prepare for returning, we will need to spend some time identifying what will be different and possibly grieving the loss of our prior practices, at least for the foreseeable future. We grieve, though, in order to let go of what once was true in order to take up what is now true for us individually and as a congregation. I am forming a Worship Restart Team that will be working diligently to map out our post COVID-19 practices. Please let me know if you would like to be a part of that team. Our first meeting will be on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. by Zoom, an online meeting space that you can join by phone, tablet or computer. I will send the sign on information to those who ask to be a part of the team.
We’re having a party! Well, actually a “Virtual Coffee Hour” for those who want to get together online. Get your coffee or other beverage, have a seat with your phone, table or computer and settle in to chat with me and others. The first one is scheduled for Monday, June 8 at 2 p.m. by Zoom, an online meeting space. You do not need to sign up to attend, just call or sign on to have coffee hour together. The line can accommodate up to 100 people but I’ll do it even if there are one or two who call in. It would be a great time to ‘see’ those whom you haven’t seen for awhile.
Here’s how to participate:
If this is your first time to sign on to Zoom, please start before 2:00 p.m. to signon. I will already be on the meeting by 1:45 p.m.
By phone: Call 1-646-558-8656 You will be prompted to enter the ID and Password listed below.
You will not be able to see or be seen by others unless you have a Smart Phone and download the free Zoom app. We will be able to hear you either way.
By Tablet or Computer – Each person will be able to see and hear others and others will be able to see and hear you.
Download the free Zoom app or sign-on at www.Zoom.com
Click Join Meeting a few minutes before the start time
Enter the ID: 865 5436 5630
Enter the Password: 135795
I pray all of you are well and staying socially distant from friends and neighbors. We have not met since March 8th, a long absence by any measure and yet, so many of you continue to be faithful to watching the sermons online, being in touch with each other and me (thanks for your notes of encouragement!) and bringing your giving by the office or mailing it to the office. We are so grateful for every dollar matters at this time as we continue to pay our staff in anticipation of our return. While responsibilities may be a bit different now, each staff member has continued to work as needed. I thank Joy, David, Carolyn, Rick and Gayla for all that they have done during this time to keep us prepared to move forward when the time comes.
God bless you,