“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)
People of Trinity,
As our communities, state and nation seek to unite in the worldwide battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, the scale of this crisis can be perceived as insurmountable. Rapid increases in confirmed cases of the virus, in shuttered businesses and rising unemployment, in economic anxiety and strains to mental health, all contribute to a perception of this pandemic as a vast, even colossal, enemy. We face a giant, if you will, in our day, a giant named COVID-19. But if there is one thing David’s victory over Goliath teaches us in 1 Samuel 17, it is that giants don’t have the last word. The unlikely combatant, David the shepherd boy, enters battle against the warrior giant confident in the help of God. Perhaps such a long-ago Sunday school story doesn’t seem very relevant or tangible in the midst of a giant ‘real world’ crisis, but the experience of those who have trusted God is, in the end, an experience of deliverance from every giant we will face.
Confident in the providence and love of our Creator God, let us remember that giants don’t have the last word, even giants as consuming and all-encompassing as this coronavirus.
Be still, and know that I am God . . .
Friends, be welcome to join us for live streaming of our “Virtual Worship” service for the Fifth Sunday in Lent from Centennial Hall on Sunday, March 29 at 9:15 a.m. If you are unable to join us at that time, be welcome to access the service at your convenience via Trinity’s YouTube channel. Instructions for that access are included on the attachment to this email entitled “March 29 Worship Resources.” Also included with the attachment are prayers, lessons from scripture, our “Taking Faith Home” page and more as resources for Sunday worship and for your devotions in the days ahead. The last page of the document celebrates the birthdays and anniversaries of the people of Trinity for April 2020.
Sunday will again be different. Pastor Dan and I will be leading a simple Service of the Word from Centennial Hall, where our Rejoice worship service normally takes place and where we have good live streaming capability. Brooks Alder and Greg Lang will care for the sound and live streaming presentation, and the four of us will again be the whole of our physical gathering in worship. We will not be blessed with Assisting Ministers and we will again refrain from the gift of Holy Communion. No musicians will be present, but both traditional and Rejoice music leaders have submitted YouTube selections which will be embedded in the worship service.
The physical absence of a congregation, which we experienced last Sunday for the first time, will again be poignant for me as a pastor. But many of you did gather with us last Sunday, singing along with the embedded songs and hymns, sending messages to one another via text or social media at the time of the Sharing of the Peace, and communicating with Pastor Dan and with me after worship concluded. Nearly 550 households tuned in to our Virtual Worship last Sunday.
Even in this time of “stay-at-home” physical distancing, Trinity’s leaders want to encourage those who are able to continue to faithfully support their congregation through financial offerings in this unprecedented time. Most of our operating budget deals with fixed costs, the costs of caring for our facility, staff compensation, mortgage payments and our benevolence partnerships. You can make your offering in several ways, through:
- our online giving platform via the website (”Tithely”),
- direct giving through personal 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. Perhaps we will even find ways to grow in our support of benevolence partners who care for those Jesus called “the least of these” in this time of extraordinary challenge. That would be an outcome that would bear testimony to the character of this congregation’s heart for mission.
At our “Zoom” Staff Meeting this week I learned that a team of “Virtual Visitors” from our congregation had been in communication with about 120 of our seniors, homebound, recovering and others in our congregation in recent days, simply checking in, offering an encouraging word, a bit of loving support and prayer. Other Trinity members are offering 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. If you would like to join these volunteers, contact Faith Community Nurse Kristin Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Director of Congregational Life Angela Davis (email@example.com).
Friends in Christ, I look forward to gathering with you in worship again this Sunday in a new way, separated but deeply connected, distancing but claiming the unifying principle that we are all most certainly in this together. 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.”
Grace and peace,
Pastor Bob Linstrom