As we come out of the pandemic and life begins to emerge around us, I think of all that we had to put up with the past year and the sacrifices we have made as a church body in following health safety protocols, doing our best to prevent any of our own and those around us from potential ventilator or death. This often meant doing things that weren’t popular, but were the right thing to do for the sake of the whole.
Though churches were never under the mandates of the government and free to do as they pleased, most, including Emmanuel, did the things that were appropriate under the circumstances for the well-being of their flock. Though opinions on the virus and response varied greatly, you came to worship despite all the restrictions and where you may have been on the spectrum of opinion. Maybe you didn’t like that we weren’t able to sing, but deep down you knew singing to be a source of spread and out of concern for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, you put up with a soloist singing for the whole. Yes, though different, true worship went on in spite of the virus!
You were gracious in accepting that things would be different for a while. You stayed at home and worshiped virtually. You came for drive-up communion. You masked. You social distanced. You sacrificed much in the last year but you did not sacrifice in giving. Giving remained consistent, even increasing! Your generosity in the midst of the trials of the last year is a witness to your faith!
I am reminded of 2 Corinthians, chapter 8 where Paul writes, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints.”
Though the devil may have thought that a pandemic might slow the church, it has only shown the church how strong faith really is. Far from slowing it down, the pandemic has forced the Gospel to be much more prevalent on-line, spreading quicker and accessible to more people than ever before, giving a whole new meaning to “sharing the Good News.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your patience through all of this. Thank you for your wealth of generosity in tough times. Your faith has kept you well.
I look forward to June 13, when we will celebrate our return to pre-pandemic worship at 9:30 am with a service of word and sacrament, surrounded by a generous amount of singing and instrumental accompaniment with hymns from throughout the church year.