Last night the Session of St. Andrew’s made the difficult step to cancel worship services, Bible studies, and other church sponsored events until the health risks have been cleared. These are frightening, unprecedented times. When other natural disasters happened, people gathered in community. I remember as a pastor serving two congregations in Indiana during 911, our church and most others were filled. We need to be reminded that we are not alone in the most perilous of times. We want to hear the comforting words of scripture and lift prayers together assuring us that God has not abandoned us.
We are being asked to do just the opposite now which conflicts everything that our faith has always taught us. “No (man) one is an island.” “Do not neglect the assembling of ourselves together.” “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ ” But now. Gathering together is actually the cause of the pandemic. Avoid crowds. Practice ‘social distancing.” It does not fit into any conceptual framework that “the assembling of ourselves” is in fact what is causing the virus to spread.
Perhaps in these challenging times, we can be awakened to new ways that the church is called to be the church. For the foreseeable future we need to pray at home. Our prayers will be spoken in our living rooms and around our kitchen tables rather than from a lectern. And our calls and letters to others in the St. Andrew’s family are more important than at any other time in our history. We must be strengthened by the reminder that “God is bigger than a pandemic.” St. Andrew’s belongs to God and we belong to God. The church is not a building, but the people. We will emerge from this, together.
A prayer offered by a Presbytery leader friend from the States says it well…
Prayer for the Day
God of all Grace,
we don’t doubt that you are with us in the midst of this crisis,
but we worry about —
what tomorrow will bring
who will suffer
how we will manage
when this will be over,
and we wonder if we’re going around a bend that leads
to rapids or still water.
In your mercy, Dear Lord,
swaddle us with your abiding presence
and keep us from flailing.
Rock us in your holy arms and calm us
so we may breathe
and believe that you are always here
though we cannot gather in your name. Amen
Rev. Dana Hughes
Transitional Presbytery Pastor Denver Presbytery