This is a difficult time right now. For many of us, our experience of being the church centers around gathering together for worship and Bible study. Our church is where we serve, where we gather items that others need and the center of our community. It is with a heavy heart that we are cancelling in person gatherings until at least May 3. The governor of Indiana has just issued a stay-at-home order that will last for two weeks. Even when that is lifted, our congregation has many people who are at high risk for complications and death from covid-19, so we do not want to gather again until it is reasonably safe for us to do so. This means that we will not be able to gather as a community to celebrate Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter. This feels hard because it is.* I can point to many things that are not cancelled. We are the body of Christ and the church is made up of the people, not the building. Church is not cancelled. Worship is not cancelled. Prayer is not cancelled. Caring for friends, showing kindness to those in need, encouraging others are not cancelled. And yet, this feels hard...because it is. In these next weeks, we will continue to worship at home. I will continue to post sermons and prayers on Sundays as well as other faith formation opportunities through the week. In order to help make this time sacred, I offer a few suggestions to worshiping at home, whether it is on your own or with your family. Preparing for worship:
Think about where and when you will gather. I often come across a worship video and watch it laying in bed or wherever I was scrolling through Facebook. Even if it is not Sunday morning, try to intentionally set aside a time for worship.
Make your space sacred. You could light a candle, put a cross in a central place or get your Bible. While we know that God is always present and we can worship anywhere, we may connect better if we aren’t staring at the pile of laundry or dishes that need to be done.
Prepare for music. The videos that I share contain just Bible reading, sermon and prayers. Many of us enjoy worshiping through music, so you could try to pick out a couple videos on YouTube or use a CD or sit at your piano if you would like to add some music. You can check out our Facebook Group for ideas.
An order for worship:
Open with music and prayer.
Watch video with sermon and prayers.
Consider your offering. Think about or talk together about what you might be able to do to help others during this difficult time. Could you donate to a food bank or other charity? Send notes to family or friends who might be lonely? Run errands for an elderly neighbor? Please also consider sending your regular offering to Risen Lord either through the website or by mail.
Spend more time with prayer and music.
Share the peace by calling a friend to check in.
Resources for worship during pandemic:
Pastor Ryan at Resurrection Lutheran Church is leading the daily offices on Facebook Live (prayers at 8 am, noon, 6 pm and 9 pm)
Pandemic Hope is a family devotional for life during Covid-19
Intercessory Prayers in the midst of the spread of COVID-19 from the Lutheran World Federation
Remember that you are not alone in this. I have been encouraged to hear about phone calls and emails between members. Continue to reach out to each other, even past your normal circle to those you might not know as well. You can always email or call me. And even more importantly, we know that God is always with us and will never forsake us. Let us pray... O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (ELW page 304) In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia *I borrowed this line from an email that summed up my feelings perfectly.