Online Only Worship Through January
I'm writing to let you know that the decision has been made to return to online only worship at Grace through the end of January 2021. Last Friday, Bishop Karen Oliveto sent a letter to the clergy and lay leaders of the conference strongly urging all churches to move to online only worship as of this Sunday, November 22. You can read a copy of Bishop Oliveto's letter here. The Church Council met yesterday on Zoom to discuss the bishop's letter and decided to follow her recommendation to be online only through the end of January. There are a few important things to note about how this decision affects what is happening here at Grace.
Worship Pods will not meet in person this week and will not meet again until at least the first week of February. If a Worship Pod would like to continue meeting online, please let me know and we will arrange a way to make that happen.
Groups that meet in the church may continue meeting, provided they follow Grace's safety guidelines as well as state and local safety guidelines.
Zoom Fellowship Time will resume after worship this Sunday. You can join Zoom Fellowship time by clicking on this link.
We will have in-person Christmas Eve services this year. They will be an outdoor drive-in style of worship with a performance by the choir, Holy Communion, and candlelight. More information about that service will be coming in the next few weeks.
I know that this season of Covid has been long and we are all very tired of the ways our lives have changed. I share your disappointment and frustration that this year and especially this special season in the life of our church is not how we wish it could be. During this time of Advent, we will be working hard to provide ways to connect as a church through worship, study, retreat, and rituals that have become time-honored traditions of this season - not the way we've done them in the past, but adapted as best we can for this moment we find ourselves in.
We are at a critical moment in this crisis - we feel the hope of a vaccine coming in the near future that will allow us to hopefully return to something more normal. At the same time, we are experiencing the pain of more and more people in our community becoming sick and our hospitals at full capacity. Now is the time when we need to be the church by doing our part to not increase the spread of the virus through the decisions we make as a congregation.
Last week in worship, we shared a Prayer/Poem by Sarah Are called "Love By Another Way" that spoke about this moment in our lives. I've thought about it a lot this week, she writes:
I used to think that love was simple.
You would know when you know,
what was meant, would be.
But I fell in love
and it's not that easy.
It's compromise and identity,
mountains and valleys,
apologies and memories,
It turns out,
love took reimagining.
I used to think that Church was simple.
Church was community, not the walls,
faith and hope mixed with call.
But then the world grew violently sick
and the way to be Church
was to keep distance.
So doors were closed,
and people sent home.
It was all love, by another way.
And yet it was not how we imagined Sunday.
I used to think that justice was simple,
that I could make a difference, all by myself.
There was a clear right and wrong,
a way I could help.
But then I learned of privilege and bias,
of white savior complex and our Church's silence.
And all at once, it wasn't so easy.
I needed to learn. I needed to listen.
I needed to reframe my original vision.
I guess what I'm trying to say is
life will throw first drafts our way.
The chance to dream,
to lead, to sing,
to love, and give,
to pray, and be.
But in order to grow,
to follow God's lead,
we have to do the work -
And despite our best efforts,
love will fail.
Churches will close.
Justice will leave the vulnerable exposed.
And when that happens,
we must own our part,
say we're sorry
and try to restart.
So write it all down.
And write it again.
A first draft,
an epilogue, and then
share it with me
and we will pray.
And the Spirit will move.
And maybe one day,
we can write this world
inside heaven's gate.
For I am starting to believe
that what matters in life
will never be easy.
So we must imagine and imagine again.
We must dream and try, die and rise.
And in our rising, may we see
the next right reimagined thing
until step by step we are home.
Love, by another way.
Beloveds, this is not what we hoped for (none of it), but it is not forever - we will be back together again, hopefully sooner than later. In the meantime, I hope that you will join us in reimagining how we can be church where we find ourselves now.
Grace and Peace,