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 19, 2020
The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and peace at the last. Amen.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, O Most High:
to herald your love in the morning, your truth at the close of the day.
With the plainsong, responsive chanting of those opening lines of the service of Compline, the service of Prayer at the Close of the Day, the people of Trinity have gathered for Midweek Worship on Wednesday evenings in the season of Lent. This evening we find ourselves coming together in our separation, our ‘distancing.’ We are learning that in our intentional separation we are caring for one another, and creative ways of reaching out to our friends and neighbors are emerging daily. Last evening our Health Ministry committee had an online meeting and committed to checking in with the people of Trinity during this time of physical distancing, prioritizing contacts in the days ahead with seniors, those living alone, single parents, homebound members and others with medical challenges and other stressors. Contact Faith Community Nurse Kristin Bradley if you would like to serve as a Trinity “virtual visitor.”
In our intentional separation we are caring for one another, yet we are seeking to remain united in mission. Strategies for online meetings are under development at Trinity, with several small groups and committees having already found online meeting platforms to facilitate support and conversation. The Trinity staff will meet tomorrow afternoon via a “Zoom” online meeting, and our Sunday School staff are planning to send out lesson resources to Trinity families this weekend.
Be reminded that the people of Trinity will be invited to a live streamed “Virtual Worship” service at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday. Watch for an emailing of worship resources on Friday afternoon with instructions to join us via that live stream.
At the outset of our Lenten journey, before we knew the significance of what would unfold in our communities in Lent of 2020, we gathered for the solemn service of Ash Wednesday. With words of confession on our lips, we received a cruciform smudge of ash on our foreheads, a sign of our mortality and our need for repentance. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” For 35 years I have looked into the eyes of the faithful as I applied that ashen cross, from the oldest parishioner to the youngest child, and entered the sobering reality of those words. The 40-day journey from ashes to Easter begins with honest solemnity, a simple confession of our mortality.
But the word “Lent” is derived from the old English “lencten,” which evokes the lengthening of days, the arrival of Spring. Even as we receive the ashes of our solemn worship, we know how the story unfolds. We will welcome the proclamation of resurrection in the weeks ahead; we will kneel before the empty tomb, knowing that our Lord has conquered death itself in that festival proclamation. We still may not be able to gather together on Easter Sunday, but the proclamation of resurrection will be ours. Spring will come. And this time of anxiety and solitude will not have the last word.
On Monday evening, a few hours after I had sent out an email to the congregation with information about our closure, our coronavirus distancing, I received a wonderful email from one of Trinity’s young families. Harris Theodore had been born that morning, 7 lbs. and 20 inches of perfection, in his mother’s words. Mom and newborn son are doing well, and their news serves as a beacon of hope in a time of uncertainty. Life’s blessings continue to unfold, and the miracle of new life rises from the ashes always.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, O Most High: to herald your love in the morning, your truth at the close of the day.” How shall we find our songs of praise in our separation, our hope-filled embrace in our distancing? Perhaps by lifting up young Harris Theodore in our prayers of thanksgiving today, commending he and his family to all of the blessings of life’s journey even as his journey begins in intentional but loving isolation with his family at home.
On Sunday, at the Sharing of the Peace, Pastor Dan will invite the people of Trinity at home to reflect on those who normally sit near you in worship, with the challenge to reach out to them in the hours and days after we conclude our worship. We will be invited to share the Peace of Christ in new ways, by phone, email, card and prayer. We can remain bound to one another in community even in this time of closure and distancing. And perhaps our depth of community will be strengthened. New life rises up out of the ashes . . .
Finally, for this Wednesday reflection, I have attached to this email a column written for Thursday’s Grand Rapids Press by my friend Doug Kindschi. He includes two widely circulated pieces in his column entitled “Responding in times of fear, with hope and a prayer.” Perhaps you have already encountered these writings; if not, please receive them a gift of reflection and prayer in this time.
“The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and peace at the last.” Blessings to you, my sisters and brothers in Christ. Let us hold one another in prayer.