When they returned from the tomb the women told everything. The grave locked down to contain Jesus’ death was found open. Angels clothed in lightening spoke and sent them back to the disciples with big news. (Luke 24:1-11)
Still the disciples hid out in the upper room because of fear. Yet the risen Christ came among the sheltering disciples. Christ declared: “Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then he breathed on them! No N-95 masks. He breathed into them new life. Then he commanded them, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:19-23)
Over five weeks ago we stopped holding public worship services to comply with the governor’s mandate to shelter in place and limit the exposure of large groups. The purpose of the mandate was to reduce the spread of Coronavirus in order to give time for the health providers to prepare for a wave of illness and discover possible procedures that would remedy the illness. The purpose of flattening the curve was avoiding overwhelming the health care system. As a nation we have achieved that. Flattening the curve was not going eliminate the virus. But our national efforts have been incredibly successful. Original models estimated a COVID-19 plague would result in 500,000 to 2 million deaths in the US alone. At this time we have a little more than 60,000. While those deaths are mourned, as a nation we have avoided the worst-case scenarios.
As the health care system makes advances in testing and treatment, the guidelines are changing. Even here in California, the governor will be lifting the sheltering in place mandate. Our society will re-open. Our society must re-open or the carnage of economic disaster will be far greater than it already is.
After more than a month of hibernation re-opening our society will all feel very weird. We will feel like waking from a mushroom induced dream in Alice in Wonderland where we have been hanging around with the hookah smoking caterpillar and the question rings “Whoooo are youuuuuu?”
The congregational council discussed restarting public worship at their April meeting recognizing this will be a bumpy process. When the county health department lifts restrictions we will resume worship. We anticipate the process of returning to worship our whole community will be a gradual process.
The decision to return to worship is an individual decision. You are responsible for your own personal health. If you decide to stay away for health reasons, we honor that decision. We do request if you do not feel well that you remain at home.
We encourage people to take sensible mitigation efforts.
- The sanctuary is large enough to have social distancing. (There are always those pews down in front.)
- We will be refraining from physical greeting for the time being.
- You are encouraged to wash your hands. Before and after worship.
- You are welcome to wear masks in worship if you wish.
- Offering plates will not be passed for the time being.
- Sunday school will not resume at this time.
- Online worship will be available through Facebook and YouTube if you choose to stay home.
- If the response to worship is so great that we need to have more space, we will implement more worship services.
There are passionate views for or against continuing the sheltering in place orders and the shutdown of businesses and other agencies. We caution our church family. We ask that you honor one another. We are to be patient with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to empathize with their perspective.
We are learning more about this virus on a weekly basis. We will adapt as new information becomes available. We will always act in the best interest of our church family.
When We Return
As we wake from this stupor we will answer the question “Who are you?” We are the Easter people sent by Christ to witness to the Resurrection! Christ has sent us to share the big news: “Christ is Risen!”
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7