Weekly Notes January 7, 2021
It is so good to be back! I return with deep gratitude for the gift of sabbatical, and for the extraordinary leadership at Saint Paul’s that allowed this community of faith to thrive during the last quarter of 2020. So many thanks to Pastor Becky for her outstanding leadership, and to each of you who stepped up to assist in various ways; for the way that you encouraged and undergirded Becky in prayer; for your spirit of generosity and compassion. This is a special community, and I am delighted to be back with you.
This Sunday we begin gathered worship in a limited way. We will offer one service at 8:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. As we have already mentioned, this service will be abbreviated from our norm (are we even allowed to use that word any more?), and I want to remind you of some important considerations:
1. masks that cover nose and mouth are required while you are on campus.
2. social distancing of 6’ is to be maintained while you are on our campus; this applies to all people who are not members of your household
3. there will be no congregational singing at this time
4. hand sanitizer stations are available at both entries for your use
5. offering will be received via wooden boxes that are placed in both narthex areas
6. dismissal from the service will be by section as needed as to maintain social distancing
I am grateful for your willingness to comply with these guidelines as we begin the process of regathering for in-person worship. Please remain patient as we determine together the best practices for being together in a way that is safe for all.
Let me also remind you that our online worship continues to be produced each week and goes live at 10:00 a.m. on our Facebook page and YouTube. We will continue our ministry of delivering DVD copies of our weekly worship to those who are not connected via the internet.
Friends, like most of us this morning, I am continuing to process the events that occurred in our capital yesterday. The images were terrifying and startling and unsettling…and while many used the phrase , ‘this is not who we are’, the truth is that what we saw is exactly who we are – what we have become. To deny that is to deny the need for healing, to deny the need for repentance, to deny the need for help that only comes from God. To deny our brokenness, scripture tells us, is a lie. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8). There is so much work to be done, and as people of faith, we are called to the work of reconciliation.
I am so deeply grateful to our Bishop, Ken Carter, who addressed us this morning in a live Facebook broadcast that you can access below. I strongly commend it to you – perhaps even using his words as a starting point of discussion in your families and small groups. As people of faith, as United Methodists, part of the vows we take at our baptism is to resist evil and oppression in whatever ways they present themselves. Jesus calls us to be makers of peace, and I am proud to be part of a faith tradition that has historically entered into, and continues to engage, this call actively and courageously for the sake of the gospel.
It is no accident that our sermon series during these next five weeks is to examine together how we as United Methodists put feet to our faith in real and tangible ways, and how we engage the world around us informed by the teachings of Jesus. This is such an important call on each of our lives – and I want to encourage you to connect to this teaching series fully. Join us in person or online – read the materials that will be shared each week – pray – ask God where you/we might put our feet.
God is with us,