May 18, 2021
May 18, 2021
This coming Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we will hear from Acts, “All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’” (2:12). But earlier in this well-known text, we hear that they “were all together in one place”.
Oh, how we have yearned to be all together in one place. This now year plus of pandemic living has made us all wonder if we would ever be able to be back in one place. Worshipping together in one place. But what this pandemic has taught me is we have worshipped all these days in ways that may not have felt “normal”, but they have been “not as we ought, but as we are able” for now. And worship has happened and continues to happen, in all its myriad of forms. You have all done an incredible job through this hard and daunting experience. Thank you!
Like many of you, I was surprised by the recent CDC updates and it led me to ask, “What does this mean?” My first thought is, even though the CDC has lifted some of the mask mandates and eased caution around public gatherings; it doesn’t mean we as the church shouldn’t still proceed with the upmost caution and care. I hope that as you create phasing back into in-person worship and gatherings, you will continue to use the guidance we are providing through our COVID-19 response page: https://www.elca-ses.org/covid and the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
I strongly encourage each of you to proceed with caution, continue to practice physical distancing, sanitary practices, cleaning of surfaces, limiting numbers, wearing of masks, limiting singing indoors and encouraging vaccinations. In so much as you are able, worship outside during these summer months. This will also allow more time for more persons (including children) to be vaccinated. Then hopefully, by Labor Day, we will be even more able to ease these precautionary methods.
Just because someone is vaccinated doesn’t mean all are. Just because someone doesn’t have COVID-19 doesn’t mean that their neighbor near them is not immune-compromised and susceptible to illness or COVID.
Where I encourage you to phase back into ministry together with one another, I also encourage you to continue to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are not out of the woods with this pandemic yet and until at least 70% of the population is fully vaccinated, then there is still need for proceeding with caution and safety.
I encourage you to look at this video from Pastor Susan Crowell of Trinity Lutheran Church in Greenville, SC. It is a wonderful example of how we continue to phase back in and also continue to offer grace to the most vulnerable among us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv_e-yIjf7Y
Thank you for your resiliency, faithfulness, and deep care you have shown. This is what it means to equip, empower, and engage God’s people to love and serve. You have all been a witness to what we can do when we are church together and church for the sake of the world. I know that weariness I see on many of your faces. But know that even in our weariness, the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep.
My continued support, prayers, and thankfulness accompany you. May God continue to bless us and strengthen us to be the church we are called to be.
Journeying together with you!
+The Reverend Kevin L. Strickland, Bishop