Years ago, a spiritual director encouraged me to conduct the very simple exercise of beginning and ending every day with thanksgiving. “No matter what’s going on in the world, the congregation, or your life,” she said, “find something for which you can be thankful and go for it!” With that little piece of spiritual instruction, let me count some of the blessings I’ve recently seen in our life together during this time of great adversity. For example…
Virtual worship has reached people literally around the world and reconnected us with a variety of former church members and friends, some of whom are experiencing a renewal in their relationship with God. That is good news! Online bible studies have kept God’s word flowing into our lives and nourishing our relationships. Confirmands are meeting in a virtual classroom and even honored their assignment to plan and lead our weekend worship. The Salteens are also meeting every week with Pastor Nick. Our Preschool staff is conducting online classes and equipping families with educational and spiritual resources. Volunteers are making face masks and keeping in touch with members who live alone, have special needs, or are members of a high-risk category. Our Home Prayer Ministry is as busy as ever taking our petitions to God. Though operating differently, the Lord’s Truck continues to roll so that people in need can still be fed. And the people of St. Andrew have continued to support the work of Christ with offerings and gifts, emails, texts, and calls filled with encouragement, faith, and love. All of that is good news too!
As you might imagine, Pastor Gonzalez and I have also been in touch with our colleagues in ministry throughout the country. We’ve attended webinars on subjects like virtual worship and ministry in a world of social distancing, and have been encouraged by the commitment and creativity of sisters and brothers in Christ. And while there’s always more that we can do, we’ve also come away from those experiences thankful for a congregation that is alive in Christ and fully engaged in a caring ministry that goes forward in careful ways.
Some in the area of church leadership have also predicted that these days will bring unexpected blessings to our long-term future. They tell us that weather related cancellations of church meetings will come to an end as online meetings become part of our parish life. I’m working on being thankful for that one, but it does ring true. While giving to many churches is down, online giving has increased. Last but far from least, the home is now becoming a place into which God’s word of grace, hope, and life is flowing like never before. All of those things give validity to a statement I saw on social media declaring that the church is not closed! It’s been deployed!
That’s how it feels to your pastors, and I hope this newsletter will help you feel that way too. Though we grieve so many losses in the midst of a worldwide crisis and fervently wish that it wasn’t happening, it’s also true that we still have lessons to learn, blessings to count, things for which to give thanks, and signs that Christ is alive and working in the hearts and hands of His people. And that is very Good News no matter what’s going on in the world, the congregation, or your life!
Thanks to God and thanks to you for all you do and all you are for His glory and our joy in the Risen Lord!