Every week, the Lutheran clergy of Northern New Jersey gather for Bible study, and attending those sessions is my priority. My faith is fed by listening to God’s story as shared in scripture and by listening to the stories of what God’s people are doing all over New Jersey. A few years ago, a retired pastor who attended these sessions shared a story that I’ve chewed on over the last few days. He was a new pastor thinking about implementing some changes in the worship life of his community. He was worried it might upset a few people, and he didn’t want worship to be a source of conflict in the church. While expressing his concerns to the church council, the president at the time gave him some advice. The changes, they said, should be spread over a year so that not everything happened at once. But that council also knew something about human nature. They also assured the pastor that after that year, the changes would be so engrained in the community that it would feel like they’ve always worshiped in this new way.
Now, for over a year, we’ve worshiped online, outdoors and over the phone. We’ve changed how we’ve gathered—shifting our in-person community towards one that was connected through technology. Our worshiping community has changed and includes new people who have never set foot in our sanctuary. We’re not the same local version of the body of Christ that we were on March 8, 2020. Yet, our identity in Jesus continues to be rooted in the grace, hope and love God gives us everyday. It’s been 14 months since a worship service was held in our sanctuary. We’ve gotten above and beyond the one-year boundary that makes a church say “we’ve always done things this way.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this last year changes, enhances and makes our life more faithful as a worshiping community. And we’ll see those changes lived out this month as we return to indoor worship.
On May 23rd, the Rite of Confirmation will be celebrated in our sanctuary. K.E., E.T., their families and guests will be present. Due to the number of guests we expect at that worship, only invited people connected to these two confirmands will be at worship. An online/conference call worship will be available to the wider community.
On May 30th, 10:00 am worship will be held in the sanctuary. We ask that you be masked, practice social distancing and avoid congregating in the lobby (narthex). Pre-registration is not required, but we invite you to contact the church office (201-391-4224 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to let us know if you will be there. It will take some time to get used to worshiping indoors, but I’m excited we get to do this together. Our transition into the sanctuary space will be more than a return to how things were. It will, instead, be the entering into a new future that is big enough to contain what we experienced over these last 14 months. We are here because Christ never left us, and we will continue to go wherever he takes us.
See you in church!
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