Every month I end my note in the Messenger with the same four words: see you in church. But that phrase sounds a bit different today. The last time I wrote those words, we were gearing up for the season of Lent, Easter, and whatever shenanigans spring break would bring. I wasn't planning for March 8th to be the last time we gathered for worship in the sanctuary. Since then, our outward expression as the church has also changed. We shifted our worship to being an online only experience before returning to in-person outdoor worship in mid July. We had to cancel some of the ways we serve the wider community, rescheduling our Genesis Garden and Trash and Treasure Sale for next year. Confirmation, baptisms, and even memorial services were rescheduled and moved to different settings. And, I have continued to see the amazing ways you've served each other during this difficult time. Instead of seeing you in church, I've seen you be the church even while the sanctuary doors have been closed.
The church has always been more than just the building. You, as living followers of Jesus Christ, are what CLC is all about. Thank you for being the church, no matter what. This edition of the Messenger is a little smaller than usual. Our hope is to provide a snapshot of where we are as a congregation. In this issue you'll find an update from our Finance Committee (spoiler alert: your generosity has been faithfully awesome), our Education team, and a word from the Choir. We also have a few online surveys for you to fill out as we make plans for the fall. For the most up-to-date information about the happenings at CLC, make sure to follow our Facebook Page (facebook.com/clc4u), Instagram (instagram.com/clc4u), and sign-up for our weekly e-newsletter (www.clc4u.com/SignUp) or you may call the church office, 201-391-4224, if internet capability is not available.
One question I've been receiving lately is about when we will return to worshipping in the building. We are entering the fall season, and the weather will be an issue while worshipping outdoors. The Church Council and staff have been in constant conversation about this since the pandemic began. Keeping each other safe and faithfully following Jesus are not mutually exclusive. One of the beautiful things about CLC is how intergenerational our community is. Our worship attendees range from being only a few months old to their mid-90s. We will continue to use the best guidance available, from the CDC and othersources, to keep each other safe. This involves making sure we have the right procedures in place that work for our specific congregation. We are not a faith community that wasn't impacted by the coronavirus, and the risks are very real to us. One of our current benchmarks is to see how our local schools handle in-person gatherings. The church council will discuss this topic at our next council meeting in late September and will keep you informed every step of the way. We will return to in-person worship in the sanctuary, but there's no current timetable in place.
Many of my colleagues, as well as myself, have found comfort during this time in the writings of Martin Luther. In 1527, the plague was going from town to town, and he was asked if one might flee from a deadly plague. The central question in Luther's writing was about our calling in the midst of a crisis. As beloved children of God, claimed by Jesus who lived and died for us, we respond to a crisis by asking: what is in the best interest of our neighbor? Through grace, we become the entire focus of God. And since God has focused on us, we are called to be like God and focus on others. We do this by using the tools of our faith: prayer, Bible reading, gathering over the phone or online and through service. In other words, we model what Luther wrote almost 500 years ago when he wrote:
Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others.
If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns—please know that I'm available. You can reach me at any time via phone - 201-391-4424 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I know that I will see you in church because I keep seeing you be the church every day.
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