2 Corinthians 4:7-9 – We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, not we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
Greetings to the Faith-ful Flock!
We have made it to the half-way point in 2020. My guess is that for most of us, this will go into the record books as one of the longest, strangest and most challenging years in our personal and collective histories! I have talked to many of you during this time, and for the most part, everyone seems to be taking the ordeals caused by this pandemic in stride. As a church we have weathered this storm pretty well so far, and continued to fulfill our mission here on ‘the Top of the Mountain.”
One word that I have heard a lot lately is ‘resilience’… “the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds, and bounce back stronger and wiser.” I think together we have demonstrated that quality pretty well. Molly and I worked together in the beginning to develop a format for ‘on-line’ worship that many of you said was meaningful and helped you stay connected to God and to our congregation. That also means that many of you showed resilience in learning to develop new skills as you learned to “Zoom” into meetings and bible studies, navigate Facebook and the website to watch the videos and find other ways to stay connected with family and friends.
This month we are learning a new way to gather… in our cars in the parking lot. Thanks to Rick Halko, we have the equipment to broadcast a ‘normal’ service from the parking lot, while everyone else worships from the safety of their cars. While it is strange to not hear your voices echoing back, it is wonderful to at least see your smiling faces through the windows… and have a chance to chat for a few seconds from a safe distance at the end. I hope more of you will join us in the weeks ahead.
The decision on when to reopen the sanctuary for worship is challenging. A group of us put together protocols to follow for doing that safely, which are included in this newsletter. We originally thought we could proceed with these plans in July, but recent surges nationally, along with smaller upticks locally, have led us to postpone indoor worship further.
We will be carefully monitoring the conditions here and around the country, but until we feel it is safe, we will continue to meet outside and provide on-line options. I have included a survey to gather your thoughts about the situation. I hope you will take a few minutes to complete the survey and let us know what’s on your minds.
One other thing I thought I’d mention is that you may notice that our first readings from the Old Testament are now a little longer. I think most of you know that the scriptures we read each week follow what is called the Revised Common Lectionary, which provides a three-year pattern for the Sunday readings that is followed by most Protestant churches. Each year is centered on one of the synoptic gospels. Year A is the year of Matthew, Year B is the year of Mark, and Year C is the year of Luke. John is read each year, especially in the times around Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
For much of the year, the Old Testament lesson is closely related to the Gospel reading… it is ‘complementary.’ However, from the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday to the end of the church year, two provisions have been made: a continuation of the complementary readings or a semi-continuous pattern of Old Testament readings. The "semi-continuous" OT readings follow major stories/themes, beginning in Year A with Genesis and ending in Year C with the later prophets.
I believe that Faith has typically followed the ‘complementary’ readings. For the next three years, we will be using the ‘semi-continuous’ readings. I think this will serve to refresh our memories on many of the biblical figures and stories that are integral to our understanding of the overarching story of God and God’s people. In August we will hear the story of Joseph…if there is anyone who can teach us a few things about resilience, it’s Joseph!!
As always, I hope this finds all of you safe and well. I have been encouraged as I speak with everyone to learn that the virus does not seem to have had a significant impact on the health of our congregation and families. As a whole we are listening to the experts, avoiding a lot of contact outside our homes, and wearing our masks in public!! Keep up the good work!!
In God’s peace and love…