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July 2, 2020
Itâ€™s been twelve weeks since we last gathered as a congregation in our sanctuary.Â This Sunday, some of us will share worship in the sanctuary and some of us will share worship via the livestream.Â Wherever and however you choose to worship, your decision is honored as I hope you will honor the decisions of others.
As you know, reopening the buildings has not been an easy decision.Â Besides researching all the science and data concerning the spread of the virus, we have been navigating the emotional toll this has taken on so many in our congregation.Â For some of us, gathering at the church for worship has been not only a regular practice but critical for overcoming isolation.Â Being with the church family brings meaning and purpose in ways that other group gatherings do not.Â I have heard the pain and the heartbreak as week after week went by and we could not gather even as we all admitted we needed more time to consider how to gather as safely as possible.
The reopening team seriously reviewed the scientific data from the CDC and recommendations from the Frederick County Health Department.Â These are reflected in how we will be worshipping.Â When some of us do gather in the sanctuary this Sunday, we know that this pandemic is far from over.Â We are not returning to life as usual or as we knew it prior to the beginning of March.Â We will be wearing masks and sitting far apart from each other.Â We will not be able to hug or shake hands.Â We will not be singing as a congregation nor will we have the senior choir. Â Â We will be surrounded by the smell of cleaning fluids and hand sanitizer.
It will be different.Â We will feel the difference not only because of the masks but also, we will feel the physical absence of some of our friends. Â And to Â reinforce a key element of our path forward, we respect the decisions of one another who choose to come to worship in the building and those who choose to participate at home. Each person must make their own assessment as to how and when they choose to worship.
We will need to continue to be vigilant in keeping connected with one another with all the ways we have been doing that over these past twelve weeks, focusing on what we have learned as a congregation, including:
- How people have become engaged with worship in ways they never had before.
- How we came to appreciate the depth of care within our church family.
- How we needed to invest in new equipment to upgrade the online experience.
- How we continued to be the church even as we had to figure out new ways to do that.
I am sure there is other knowledge we have gained, and I welcome hearing from you about your insights.
I thank those whoÂ served on the Worship Team throughout these twelve weeks, the AV tech crew, and the church staff.Â We know that until there is a vaccine, this virus will have an impact on us, for many months ahead. Patience, flexibility, and faith must be our guides, always erring on the side of safety.
Worship NotesÂ Â
Jesus offers a relationship that leads to fullness of life, yet Matthew 11:16â€“19, 25â€“30 reports that many resist Jesusâ€™ hospitality. Jesus likens them to two groups of children at play who canâ€™t agree on a game and find fault with all that is offered. Today we will reopen the doors of the church for Sunday morning worship.Â As a small group meets in the sanctuary, we know that we will continue to be gathered in many homes across Frederick and the United States as well as Germany. For your worship center, you have a little sparkly thing to add as a reminder of the joy we share as a community in Christ.
Food for Thought:Â Â Â
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Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel, Senior Pastor
Evangelical Reformed Church, United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701