Hot Off the Presses!
Our principal at Mills sent an email yesterday titled “Stop the Presses!” We were all poised to start phoning our students at home and procedures changed. My article for this month’s church newsletter has been edited, re-edited, and now I am rewriting it entirely! These are uncertain and strange times we find ourselves in, but as people of faith we need to trust in God. I am not going to tell you not to be afraid, because we all are. But I am going to invite us all to open ourselves to the Spirit, to let the Spirit move and live and breathe in us (I actually think there is a hymn with those lyrics).
These past three weeks have been a blur of phone calls, and learning all about zoom meetings, attending zoom meetings, getting all our council members up and running on zoom, watching webinars from our bishop, watching webinars on using technology, sampling what other churches are doing online (churches which I need to remind you have full time pastors, full time administrators and full time musicians). I’ve also been watching and reading special reports about the Covid-19 virus.
When our Bishop, Elaine Stanovsky, sent out the order to not have worship on March 15 and March 22, she did so with a great deal of angst. She knows that in times like these we need each other and our faith. When she extended the ban on worship to an outright closure of churches to all but essential services, she did it with a heavy heart. I sent you all a link to a worship service at First United Methodist in Carson City, Nevada, pastored by my friend and colleague Maggie McNaught not because I am a lazy bum who doesn’t want to write a sermon or put on an online service. I would love to have those resources at my fingertips. I would give anything to go back to my usual rhythm of sermon writing and leading worship with you all. I have worked almost non-stop since the closure trying to figure things out in terms of technology. But I finally realized that this is not one of my gifts and graces (you would have been shocked at the words coming from my mouth two weeks ago as I tried, re-tried, and retried and retried to get our Lenten study uploaded to YouTube and sent it over and over again, only to be met with “I couldn’t open it”).
My gifts and graces are in connection. I have so enjoyed the phone conversations with all of you as I worked my way through the directory. The gift of being stuck at home is that I finally have the time to do this. When I first started here in July, I had this goal of visiting each and everyone of you at home. That got derailed because of my job at Mills Elementary – seems like I have had back to back colds since last fall, and I in no way want to get any of you sick. I will be working my way through the directory again over the coming weeks to check in but also have a deeper conversation with you about your faith, our church, the future, and anything else that is on your hearts. I think this is a much better use of my time, my graces, than fighting with how to stream a worship service (doesn’t mean I won’t keep dabbling with that as my 20 hours a week allows, maybe even recording a sermon at home and posting it on YouTube),
If you haven’t heard from me by phone, it is because we don’t have your current number in our data base. Please email it to Jeannie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 541-273-9579. I will continue to post links for Carson City’s worship service since those of you who tried it last week loved it. If you type a note in the chat box to the right of the screen, just a simple hello from Klamath Falls, OR, we can see who we know is online with us. I was so totally bummed the worship on March 15th was canceled because I had worked hard on a very special woman at the well presentation. When we are together again, I will do it for you. Read John 4:5-42. The Samaritan woman asks Jesus where the right place is to worship (this was an us or them kinda question, but you will hear more when we return to worship in the building). Jesus knew the us or them nature of that question and he refused to go there. Instead he told her “the hour is coming when you will worship [God] neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…God is Spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth.”
These days that kind of worship has been happening in hospitals around the world where doctors and nurses risk their own lives to tend to people with Covid-19. That kind of worship has been happening every Sunday and Tuesday at PALM as they hand out to go boxes of food. That kind of worship has been happening in grocery stores around the country as those workers seek to tend our physical need of food. And that worship happens among us as we pick up the phone and call people we haven’t seen in a while, or people in our directory we don’t even know and introduce ourselves, ask the person on the other end of the line “How are you doing?”
The church has left the building. The church is us!
Grace and peace!
P.S. Thanks a million to those who have mailed in your pledges/donations!