Upon the first warning of Covid 19 I read these words and shared them. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46). While I know this to be true, it does not feel true unless we turn to God for refuge and strength. If I stray away from God and panic or become fearful, no way will I experience God’s refuge and strength. It takes discipline. It takes reminding ourselves and others. It takes reminding ourselves that we are community.
How to stay tuned? Establishing a virtual meeting/worship space has been daunting. My hope is to have coffee hour using your phone or computer, soon. Worship has a few paths to accommodate you. We are sending out a written copy of the service to those who have no internet access. On Sunday morning we are sending out a link with downloads, and we now have our own YouTube channel. It is easy to access. When we have a new video to share, we will will send you a link. Click on it or type in Center Church South Hadley. We hope to offer ZOOM for Team Meetings.
Making phone calls to some of you replenishes my soul. Emailing renews me. We are not alone. Remember we are only an imaginary string away from each other. I just got off the phone with our oldest member at age 101. She told me a children’s story about a mother reminding her children she is always close by even when they are fearful of thunder and lightning. The mother asks them to imagine a string that connects each one of them to her and each other. She reinforced that she need not be present for them to feel her love. Feel the string, barely there, but it is a reminder that we are there for each other.
How is Center Church reaching out, ministering lately? First, decisions were made with several leaders of the church, whether and when to close, whether to suspend any use of the church. We are following our Church Conference (SNEUCC.org) guidelines. And they change daily. On Monday they asked us to not do a livestream with even a few worship leaders. We need to model the self-quarantine model and use the church ONE AT A TIME.
For the most part, most of the staff is working, working to put things online for a virtual ministry. The musicians and I work closely to develop music around the theme for Sunday and to add downloads to the Mid-Week Musings. Staff talks/emails often throughout the day including Saturday and Sunday, to get communication up and out. Our CE staff have either developed or are in the process of creating virtual Sunday School. Our sexton, is doing spring cleaning 4 days a week. Thank you, staff. And many of you are assisting from your homes, calling folks, encouraging, praying.
We check the phone every day for voicemail and the mail. I am not allowed into hospitals or nursing homes. We are asking all to not enter our offices, not wanting to further any possibilities for infection. Bob will be there in the mornings Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday…maybe a short time on Saturday.
You are encouraged to send your offerings by mail. We are here and will respond as best as possible. We are “virtually open”!
Friends, rely on Center Church and call one another. If you discover meaningful words, send them…or humorous pictures.
In closing, let me share what I read online. Choose CALM. When anxiety comes remember this acronym: Celebrate God’s goodness, Ask God for help, Leave your concerns and Meditate on good.
With God anything is possible,