The CDC recommends that all gatherings of 50 or more be cancelled for eight weeks. Except for Sunday Virtual Worship live streaming at 9:15 am, all parish and community programs have been removed from our operations through at least April 4th.
March 16, 2020
Be still, and know that I am God
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
I arrived shortly after 7 a.m. yesterday, my usual time to arrive onsite on a Sunday morning. As the 8 a.m. hour arrived, I settled into a pew in the rear of our church nave. The ceiling lights were off, but the early morning sunlight illuminated our worship space with a warm welcome to the new day, the Third Sunday in Lent, the first full day of our church closure. I was awaiting any worshippers who had not received the message that we were refraining from “in person” worship during this time of the coronavirus crisis.
It was beautifully quiet and prayerful time, but it was bittersweet. In 35 years of ordained ministry, I have not known such a Sunday morning. I found my focus on the Lenten wall banner, from Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God.” In the stillness of the sanctuary I reflected upon the reality that we have truly entered into a time of Lenten fasting unlike any in my memory, a fast from gathering, from embracing, from the Lord’s table, from corporate prayer and from the rhythm of liturgy.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change . . . God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns . . . Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:1-2a, 5, 10)
Apparently, all of the people of Trinity received the message last week — as no one arrived for worship at 8, 9:15 or 10:45 am. We are all most certainly paying attention in this time of unprecedented pandemic.
We did have a meeting yesterday of Trinity’s officers, pastors and a group of medical professionals, along with our Rejoice worship tech leaders and a group of Trinity’s lead musicians. We practiced physical distancing, scattering across the Courtyard as we deliberated. The result of that meeting confirmed some of my report to you last Thursday evening, but added clarity to our current operations in this time of closure and distancing. A few notes:
At this time, through at least April 4th, we are refraining from all “in person” worship, classes, small groups, meetings and rehearsals at Trinity. In effect, our parish calendar has been closed down for all church and community programming onsite. A meeting of the leadership team mentioned above is scheduled for Sunday, March 29 to determine if our closure will continue. In light of today’s CDC recommendations, that continuance seems likely. Pastor Dan is exploring ways of providing virtual meetings for small groups and committees – be in touch with him to learn more.
All of the people of Trinity will be invited to join us in “Virtual Worship,” a live streaming of worship on Sundays, March 22nd and 29th at 9:15 am. Pastor Dan and I will be joined by our tech team of Greg Lang and Brooks Alder to provide that offering; no other worship leaders or musicians will be onsite. Trinity’s musicians will be providing recommendations for music that will be embedded in our live streaming of worship. If the 9:15 am worship time is not convenient for you, the service will be available subsequently on Trinity’s YouTube channel — instructions for joining us will be sent out on Fridays in the weeks ahead.
Despite the fact that we will not be physically together in the weeks ahead, Trinity’s leaders want to encourage those who are able to continue to faithfully support their congregation through financial offerings. Most of our budget deals with fixed costs, the costs of caring for our facility, staff compensation, mortgage payments and our benevolence partnerships. We hope and pray that you will find ways to continue supporting our shared ministry in this unprecedented time.
You can make your offering in several ways, through:
- Our online giving platform via the website (“Tithely”),
- Direct giving through bank account bill pay programs, or
- By mailing offerings to the church (there is a mailing envelope in every month’s packet of offering envelopes).
Your faithfulness will help see us through this “in between” time.
A number of Trinity members have begun to offer their support to run errands, pick up groceries, provide childcare and more for those who are at risk or homebound in the midst of this crisis. Director of Congregational Life Angela Davis is coordinating those volunteers through our “Helping hands” ministry. If you would like to volunteer, or if you need some support, please be in touch with Angela or the church office. We will be seeking to facilitate “healthy to healthy” matches of care givers with those who could use some support in the weeks ahead.
Trinity staff and lead volunteers have all been actively encouraged to work from home during this shutdown. Office Coordinator Kris Baker will be providing limited office hours to field messages, to receive mail and deliveries and to coordinate our communications, but the best way to reach staff will be via email or phone messages. Our new phone system is easily accessed by church staff via a cellphone app.
Trinity pastors and lay visitors have also been directed to refrain from “in person” visitation at this time. Please join us in seeking to hold one another in prayer, to reach out to single adults, the sick and homebound by phone, email or a card, and by understanding our need for this separation. Faith Community Nurse Kristin Bradley is seeking to develop a “buddy system” to help us keep track of one another – contact Kristin if you would like to find a role in providing support in this way.
Our ‘physical distancing’ need not be ‘social distancing.’ Let’s all find creative ways to stay in communication with one another and seek to mitigate the social isolation that this time of closure and distancing can evoke.
Finally (for today), I intend to be in touch with the people of Trinity at least three times weekly:
- On Mondays, with some musings and updates on our shared ministry
- On Wednesdays, with a Lenten reflection in lieu of our Lenten gathering for midweek worship
- On Fridays, with worship resources for “Virtual Worship” on Sundays and instructions for accessing that worship
Friends, I missed being with you yesterday and I will miss our gathering in worship and fellowship, learning and service in the days to come. But I find myself seeing your faces in my prayers and giving thanks for the privilege of this time of retreat. Join me in praying constantly for medical professionals and first responders in these days, for those with threatening illness and their loved ones, for the isolated and the lonely, and for all of those facing economic insecurity in this time of closure. Then let us pray for the ministry we share, anticipating the day when we will gather again to celebrate the community of Christ in this place as the people of Trinity Lutheran Church.
Until then, may we ponder this remarkable time of our Lenten fasting, and find inspiration in the Psalmist’s words, “Be still, and know that I am God.”