Thoughts from the Pastor

Gathering Again as Family

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful, or proud, never haughty, or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way – 1 Corinthians 3: 4-5

     As I think of our congregation this past month it is hard for me to find the words to describe how meaningful worship has been since Easter. While I am thankful for our ability last year to transition online and do digital worship effectively, at its core worship is meant to be experienced in community. For me, this past month has felt like a family reunion of sorts. While not everyone has yet returned to in-person worship from before the pandemic, I have been thankful to see much of the church returning to worship, with many new faces as well! I have heard many of you share similar sentiments. It is simply good to be together again.

     Outdoor worship has also allowed us to ease back into being together. Social psychologists are now shedding light on the very real anxiety many individuals will feel as they begin to gather in buildings again with others. It is still strange to me to not wear a mask around family who have also been vaccinated. For many of us, there will be anxiety and it will take time to feel comfortable again. It is important to name this as natural and not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith. We have endured much together and there are still many unknowns with this pandemic.

     This brings me to the familiar passage from 1 Corinthians quoted above that speaks of the true nature of love. The truth is love and grace seem to come more naturally when we are together. It is much easier to respond negatively, harshly, out of anger, void of grace when we are not physically with one another. This has been the danger with social media long before the pandemic. For all its convenience and blessings, the digital world can be a discouraging place. 

     This is why being connected to a church family is so important to our faith. While we could not gather for much of this past year for good reason, I have already noticed my spirits being uplifted just this past month. Gathering as a church body is a constant reminder of the type of love we have been called to by our God. A love that is patient, kind, selfless, a love that builds up and is ok if things do not go our way. Most importantly, a love that is experienced and expressed in community.

     We have had some bumps in worship since transitioning outdoors: I lost a page of my sermon to the wind on Easter, technology has not always cooperated, we even had a snake join us for worship one Sunday. Still, after watching the children run to the playground after worship, listening live to our gifted musicians, watching church members visit and greet one another as if it were indeed a family reunion; it is difficult to leave worship these days not feeling overwhelmed by a sense of appreciation and love. A simple reminder that church is not about the location but about the people being together. 

     There is convenience to watching worship online.  I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed watching church in my pjs with a cup of coffee. Even so, we miss something vital if our connection to a church community is only from afar. While I know there are certainly physical barriers that make it impossible for some to worship with us in person, for those of us who are comfortable gathering, may we continue. In doing so we experience the type of love taught by Christ and expressed in 1 Corinthians and are better able to treat one another with that same love. Blessings and thank you for a wonderful month of being the church together.

~ Pastor Nathan