Guest blog: Pastor Cindy Halverson, our amazing and gifted visitation pastor, shares a word today…
“Pray for our country. This will be the first Easter in the history of our nation that churches will not be fully operational.” The ache in his voice was real. The loneliness for worshipping together in the ways he had done for as long as he could remember seeped through the phone lines. His hope was leeching away. His body was experiencing pain from a medical condition and his psyche was taking a significant blow with the thought of the continued social distancing that was being encouraged/enforced. He didn’t ask me for any words of encouragement; he just wanted me to pray.
Immediately I was reminded of a conversation using video conferencing technology. We had “visited” with some dear friends the evening prior. In our conversation, I mentioned that I had preached “to an empty sanctuary” for our worship service that had been live streamed. They both responded rather quickly to my “empty sanctuary” comment. They assured me that I might not have been able to see the faces of those who were worshipping and listening but there were certainly people engaged with that worship. The sanctuary had seemed empty to me but for them, the visual of the altar and words that were prayed and spoken had been meaningful.
I returned to the present conversation. The man waited for me to respond to his concern for our country and promise to pray. While I honor his concern and I often pray for our country, my thoughts were overflowing with hope instead of concern. Yes, our worship services looked vastly different than they had only a few weeks ago. Yes, we are all longing to be fully present and engaged in worship together. However, the church IS fully operational! The church, the body of Christ, IS alive and well. No, we can’t shake hands in a sanctuary on a Sunday morning or through the screens on our devices, but we can greet our neighbor from 6 feet away. No, we don’t pass an offering plate, but we can be generous to our faith communities (funds are still needed to continue the operations of the local church), as well as generous to those in need, even when the need is a roll of toilet paper. No, we can’t hear a couple of hundred voices singing “alleluias” but we can FaceTime with our elderly relatives and share stories from long ago.
The body of Christ is very much alive. What a fabulous way to participate in the meaning of the Resurrection!! WE are the church. And while it is painful to experience some of the “deaths” of our usual way of doing life, resurrection only happens following death. We, of all people, have HOPE. Hope for the new. Hope for abundant life. We are the people of the Resurrection!