Many of us are connecting with friends and family we haven’t seen in a long time. It has been amazing to catch up and listen to one another. Recently, I connected with a friend who has known me since I was 5 years old and another friend who has known me since we were in the same 1st grade class. We all still live in the same home town and our families were farm families who shared a lot of similarities and differences along the way. Within minutes of our conversation, I felt genuinely safe that the person who sat across from me. My heart gave way to the compassion I was receiving. I felt honored to hear stories of her health fears as well as the heartbreak of the death of a parent. We talked about our careers, the careers of our children, and of course, the news and media.
In our passage this weekend, we hear in 2 Corinthians 5:6-17, that we are loved genuinely by Christ. It is this gift of truth that we are loved first and forever that we trust. We find that, in trusting in the promise that that we are deeply loved by Christ, we are invited to lean fully into our own challenges. We can hear the message not just that we are one big failure, but that, in our hurt, we are provided the opportunity for healing and in healing we are transformed; and in being transformed, we are whole again. Our healing is a work in progress called grace.
We are called upon to make the best decisions we can for ourselves, our children, our co-workers, students, members and friends with the most and best information we have at the time we need to make the decision. For me as a leader, pastor, spouse, parent, grandparent, daughter, sister and friend, I know I have, and maybe you have, longed for national guidelines to help give us direction.
I think we would also agree that each of us, in some way, has been exhausted by ongoing and changing responses to the ever-changing guidelines. But that is exactly how we come out of a crisis and enter into a season of healing…one step, one change at a time - forward. Each step ahead is different than the one behind because we must have perspective to see it.
So as a continuation of our on-going COVID response, we will continue to follow the CDC guidelines with an abundance of caution.
We will invite all individuals to be part of the solution by being vaccinated as they are able to do so. We are mindful that children under 12 years of age and those with some health concerns may not be able to be vaccinated.
We will celebrate with a gracious response that the CDC states that individuals who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks.
We will continue to check-in, limit movement in the sanctuary, and continue to arrange seating for safe-distancing as desired by individuals in attendance.
We will meet outdoors for Fellowship so all may be able to join in.
We will not yet provide child care.
We pray, God of all creation, stir within us compassion and care for one another that reflects our humbled walk as your children whose lives are always made new and whole through your gift of love and grace. We pray all things in your name, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen