“What Are We Missing Most?”
Recently, our Stewardship Chairperson, Tom Springer, sent out a note to the congregation asking how each of us was being a good steward during these difficult times of social distancing. A part of his letter asked for members of the congregation to share how they might be helping others during this time when life is so unusual. The first reply I received to Tom’s request came in from Mark and Irene Palasek. They reported that they had made a necessary trip to Costco for supplies, and as they were checking out, they made a point of thanking the clerk and person bagging their groceries. The persons helping them check-out replied back, “Thanks, not many people say that.” The Palasek’s example points out how much appreciated it is when we say “thank you” to those who are helping us. We have seen how meaningful it has been to medical professionals as the world is so thankful for what they are doing to help us. Perhaps, we could also make certain we say “Thanks” to anyone and everyone who might be helping out during this time.
Now, what is it that we are missing most these days? Initially, it seemed as if toilet paper might have been at the top of the list. Then as days stretched into weeks, restaurants moved right up to the top. Take-out food has helped a bit with that though. I hear lots of you are looking forward to your next visit to a barber or stylist. A lot of us are missing human contact, which includes touches and hugs and being close to each other. That one has certainly been hard for me, and one of my prayers each day has been that none of us need to be hospitalized, since hospitals are not allowing any visitors, and this includes clergy. So, the truth of the matter is that we are all missing something during these times, even if that ‘something’ changes daily.
The one thing, I believe, that we are all missing is our in-person worship service and receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. I receive at least one call every day asking me about when we might be able to gather again for public worship. I wish I knew. I also receive calls about how much someone misses being able to receive the body and blood of our Lord as we come to the altar of our church for communion. Having these two powerful and moving opportunities for our faith to be nurtured and nourished taken away from us has been the most difficult for me. To see you gathered in worship and praise of the God who created you reminds me of your belief and faith. To see you before the altar receiving the body and blood of Jesus confirms for me that you understand what God has done for you in the gift of his son. When we are absent from each other, as we are now, I miss being together as the body of Christ gathered in worship. And from your many calls, I know you feel that way too.
With that in mind, some things to consider as we move forward: 1) With the help of volunteers, we have been able to make our worship services available for you on both the St. John’s Facebook site and the St. John’s YouTube site. I hope you are tuning in, on Sunday or anytime, to worship with us. This is one way we have continued to be together while we were apart. 2) When we are able to return to church for worship, we will initially set up the church to facilitate some continued social distancing, by asking that we leave every other pew empty. 3) We will have hand sanitizer available and encourage everyone to take advantage of it and use it. 4) We may need to offer additional worship services each Sunday for several weeks as we make it possible for us to gather in worship, but also to maintain some distance from each other. 5) The way communion will be administered may need to be slightly different as we make certain the distribution of the sacrament protects the person receiving it as well as the person distributing it.
I can’t wait till we are able to gather again as St. John’s Lutheran Church and the body of Christ at worship. I miss you. And I also want to make certain you know, that even when we are apart, you are in my prayers, and most importantly, you are never distant nor apart from God our Father. Through thick or thin, faith or doubt, fear or joy, God is with you. I pray you have felt his presence and my prayers for you through this pandemic.
May God bless you and protect this day and always.
Pastor Butler +