Friday, August 28, 2020

September Letter from Pastor Merrill

Dear Friends in Christ,

Our COVID spring has given way to a COVID summer and now we are approaching a COVID fall.  We have been cautiously living with the virus, attempting to keep the Lord's work going while being respectful of the health concerns of our neighbors.  Thanks be to God, we have been able to reopen for in-person worship services and have stayed healthy.

For the fall, we will open up for a few more activities.  Confirmation classes will begin September 2, with social distancing measures in place.  We will be resuming adult Bible class on Sunday mornings in the fellowship hall for those who feel comfortable attending.  Sunday School reopening is also in the works.

Meanwhile--and again, thanks be to God--I have been able to visit our shut-ins and residents of care facilities again.  Most homes are restricting visitors to outdoor or window visits, and appointments are necessary, but it has been a welcome change for our shut-ins as they have missed contact with their families and church.  I have been able to give communion at individual homes and at a couple care facilities.  I even made one hospital call in August!

"Baby steps," is what I have been calling the process.  When you have had a major surgery and are in rehab, you don't regain all your strength and get back to normal health all at once.  The process takes time--sometimes a lot longer than we hope for.  The body of Christ has suffered injury by having to be apart during this pandemic.  But by the grace of God, we will come back.  Slowly, perhaps, but the church will go on.

I am reminded of the words of Jesus from a recent Gospel lesson, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."  (Matthew 16:18).  The Lord of the Church, who gave His life so that there could be a Church, will not let His Church be destroyed.  The Lord's work will go on.

The words of St. Paul to the Corinthians are also appropriate here:  "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."  (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

The pandemic has shown us to be vulnerable, like frail jars of clay.  And yet in all our weakness we are privileged to carry in our bodies the death of Jesus, the good news that Christ died for us and rose again, so that we may also bring forth the fruits of His risen life.  In our baby steps, tentative though they may be, Jesus is advancing the Gospel and continuing to build His church.

Peace to you in Christ,

Pastor Merrill

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