It is now approaching three months since we’ve gathered together in worship. Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost have come and gone without gathering. Perhaps none of us ever realized just how hard it would be. The Jewish people, our siblings in faith and Jesus’ ancestors, have a long history of being away from home – their wilderness journey, their exile to Babylon, their life in Diaspora – and so we can look to the words of the prophets for hope, for an assurance of God’s presence, for the promise of return.
We are also now receiving signs of that possibility from leaders in our state, although that return will certainly not be all that we would hope for. The Upper New York Annual Conference offers a glimpse in the Reopening Task Force Guidelines: “In order to hold worship services, churches need to consider many factors from continuing online services, refraining members from singing, avoiding printed bulletins, to refraining from using a common offering plate, and not holding a coffee hour.” Our return will be a journey.
Later in that same chapter of Jeremiah the prophet writes, “Set up markers, put up signs; think about the road you have traveled, the path you have taken. Return, virgin Israel; return to these towns of yours.” Our way of setting up those markers and thinking about the road we’re travelling will be through the work of our own Reopening Task Force. This team includes people with medical knowledge, longtime members, and a custodial liaison, so that we can best examine and implement the guidelines and regulations.
In the short term we will work on some other opportunities to gather, like drive-in worship and, if regulations allow, outdoor services. We will also do our best to keep you up to date on where we are, and where we’re going.
Peace for the journey,