June marks my twelve months, that I have served as your pastor. I started worshipping alongside you the first Sunday in July, and it has been quite a year! When I began my tenure, the worship committee and I were in discussion as to when and how we could gather for in-person worship. We had guidelines and restrictions in place as to how we gather and what we could do. We also wanted to make sure we cared for one another well. It was still months before we gathered-in-person as a church (October!) but with our infection rates in the basin, it was still a while before we could be together for regular worship. Pentecost Sunday was the first Sunday that we could sing again! And so, while we have journeyed together for a year, in many ways, with our return to weekly gathering, feels like we are just getting started!

It has been a difficult year for many of us. The Pandemic upended our routines and isolated us from one another.  Still our online worship has provided a way for us to connect with people who had already been unable to be with us in person (because of health or distance from our community). We were not together but we were together in the experience of the pandemic. The gift of COVID-19 was that it gave us empathy for everyone who felt excluded, and we sought to navigate how to do church, we became a more inclusive community!

We find ourselves now at the threshold of post-pandemic-life with the promise of a return to normal.  The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, “There is nothing new under the sun”

(Ecclesiastes 1:9), and while that is true, the cessation of worship this past year has made us feel like “Everything old is new again!” We have had to readjust ourselves to Sunday, and in some cases transform how we have done things as we navigate our current reality. But how good it is to be together again!

This past year, we have been blest as church to be served by the gift of a few of our members. We have heard the preaching gifts of Jean Freeman and David Glidden. We have heard the music of Pat Harris, Carolyn Lewert-Hagan, Charles Charles, Deanne Inman and more! We have been served by the camera work and editing skill of Fred Freeman. But now that the whole church is gathered, I am excited to see and hear again the gifts of the whole church, just as I was excited on Pentecost to hear the voices of all who were gathered as we sang. Not just a few of us, but all of us, as we strive to be the church for one another!

In the coming year, may we sense the gift of one another’s presence each time we gather. And may we care for one another as we transition back to togetherness.

Pastor James