When my sabbatical ended six weeks ago, I returned to a ministry context that was very different than the one I had left. The church building is closed, worship and faith formation take place online, and our members are physically distant and largely remaining in their homes. Right away, I started to notice the remarkable ways the congregation and staff at CtK have responded to this unprecedented reality of COVID-19.
I have noticed flexibility. The CtK ministry staff adapted almost immediately to online worship, and has continued to develop and hone their skills as we enter into our fifth month leading these ever-evolving virtual services. I’ve noticed the flexibility it takes to produce such worship as we move from doing so from our individual homes to leading from the CtK sanctuary, each new step bringing both challenges and rewards. I’ve noticed flexibility on the part of faith formation leaders, who have offered BAM, Confirmation, VBS, and Adult Ed on Zoom, via podcasts, or with Google Hangouts. I’ve marveled at the flexibility of groups to restructure their meetings, such as Elders in Action holding distanced meetings on the church lawn, or the Prayer Shawl ministry gathering around a CtK picnic table. Such flexibility is not a given, and yet I am thankful that so many among us have readily embraced it.
I have noticed generosity. Giving by members has kept pace with previous years, even when we are not gathering in person. Folks keep mailing in their offerings, and more and more are choosing to be generous using electronic means. Given the economic stress brought on by this global pandemic, the stay-at-home orders, and the continued limitations on “everyday life,” we might have expected to be experiencing a financial crunch right now. We are not. Our current financial position is strong, thanks in no small part to the generous support by CtK’s members and friends. Of course, we’ll need to keep a close eye on this, for there is still potential for future budget constraints the longer the pandemic continues. Such generosity is a witness to the commitment folks at CtK share for our shared life and ministry, and I am grateful.
I have noticed an abundance of care. Care for one another and for the community that surrounds us. Care shown by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, even suspending in-person worship, fellowship, and learning for the time being. Care expressed through phone calls made to fellow CtK-ers we are missing, through emails and cards sent out to one another, through folks held in prayer in our distanced meetings and virtual gatherings. Such care is the mark of us being and becoming Christ’s beloved community, one marked by our deep and abiding concern for one another.
Friends, I appreciate your continued flexibility, I am grateful for your ongoing generosity, and I am touched by the care and concern you show to me, to one another, and to this corner of the world God has placed us in. Life and ministry these days is different—it can be harder, more tiring, maybe a bit less obvious in its fruitfulness. But God is with us. God is blessing us, encouraging us, walking with us, sustaining us. God is nurturing growth among us, even if we can’t always see it. We remain connected in Christ and through Christ the King.
Thanks be to God!