One of the writing projects I completed on my Sabbatical was for the online devotional D365.org. Writing in the end of March—two or three weeks into the “stay-at-home” order as the Covid-19 pandemic was just unfolding—I imagined the joy we would all feel when we were finally able to gather again, to sing together and listen to our choir, to share handshakes and hugs, to occupy the same space, even at close proximity. At the time, I imagined that this might happen around Memorial Day, or maybe as late as mid-June.
Nine months later, that all seems naïve, giving new meaning to the phrase “2020 hindsight.”
Folks, I don’t have to tell you that we are in this for the long haul. What we imagined might last a matter of weeks is about to enter its tenth month—with the hardest months, many experts say, still ahead of us. Advent and Christmas are shaping up to be much different than we could have imagined. We will not gather in our crowded sanctuary to sing familiar carols by candlelight this year. We will not travel long miles to be with family on Christmas morning. We will not bounce from one open house to another to ring in the new year. We have set aside many of our traditions in order to do our best to keep one another safe and healthy.
In a recent pastoral letter, our Synod Bishop, Patricia Lull, reminded us of some of the writings Martin Luther produced during his own 11-month quarantine. One such work reveals one of Luther’s core convictions, that “the God we have in Jesus Christ is a God who comes to us where we are.” Bishop Lull continues, “As Luther learned deeply from his own time in seclusion, announcing that venturesome faithfulness of God is the single message we have to offer others, speaking it in season and out. It is still God’s good news for us today. The kind of God we have in Jesus Christ is a God who comes to us where we are, even if that means coming to find us in all the messiness of 2020.”
I have long said that I believe that this ongoing time of separation and confinement, of innovating our ministries and refining our priorities, may just be preparing us for some yet undetermined new way of being church together. Convinced that God comes to us where we are, perhaps this season is a new and extended take on Advent. We are watching, we are waiting, we are preparing.
We are attentive to God’s word, listening for God’s voice, ready for God’s presence. We remain engaged—joining for worship over previously unknown platforms, connecting with one another via phone calls and email, holding each other more deeply in prayer than ever. We imagine what it will be like to be together again, even as we become more and more aware that it may still be quite some time before that happens. We give thanks for health care workers and essential service providers, and others who make this separation more bearable. We watch and wait for an efficient vaccine, continuing to do what we can to slow the spread of the virus in the meantime.
We are in this for the long haul. And so is our God. The God we know in Jesus Christ comes to us where we are, sits with us in our confinement, and walks with us along each and every one of these unfamiliar pathways.
Thanks be to God!
Covid Relief Funds Still Available.
As the long-haul effects of Covid-19 and related economic challenges continue, please know that CtK still has funds available to help members who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result. We are all in this together! If you are in need of some of these funds, please speak with any of the pastoral staff for assistance.