For the last three months, most of us (perhaps all of us) have
been operating out of Emergency Mode. We have made
decisions on a moment to moment, day by day basis, as we have
attempted to figure out the best path amidst the chaos that living
with a pandemic has created. And, really, I have been amazed by
the creativity and adaptive energy that everyone has shown.
Besides keeping worship going, feeding people, providing
information and resources to our neighbors—we have had
parades, celebrated milestones, and continued work on the
Memorial Prayer Garden and Labyrinth. We have begun the
process of creating outdoor meeting space that can be used for worship and other events while maintaining for physical distancing. The amount of time, energy, financial support, emotional encouragement, and patience is beyond counting. God is good. And, as I begin my fourth year as your pastor, I feel blessed indeed.
So, now what? We are in month four of our changed global reality. We are weary. None of us can live in emergency mode for long without paying a toll—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had over these last weeks about the exhaustion, depression and anxiety so many of us are experiencing. In emergency mode, our bodies are flooded with chemicals demanding fight, flight or freeze. Living in a chemical bath of that nature for days, weeks, months does not put us in an optimal condition to make good decisions, to tolerate frustrations, or to be patient enough to allow for our best selves to be in the driver’s seat.
This week I recalled the story of what historians now call the “Phony War.” At the beginning of World War II, Britain braced itself for air attacks from the Germans. They spent weeks preparing for invasion from air and sea. Air raid precautions, black out restrictions, food rationing, mandatory curfews, mandatory gas masks, limited public transportation, and children being evacuated to the countryside. It was an intense time of preparation and waiting. And then nothing happened. For weeks. And weeks. People began to resent the sacrifices they were making for a war that didn’t appear to be happening. They were frustrated. They were angry. The were resentful. The stalemate continued for eight long months. And then, the war became all too real.
Dealing with a pandemic these last three months might seem a bit like living with the “phony war.” We stayed home. We put off trips. We limited going to the grocery store. We sanitized anything that didn’t move out of the way. And nothing seemed to happen. Many, maybe even most of us, do not know anyone who has caught the virus. But some of us do. More of us will.
What I would like to suggest for us, Beloved, is that now is the time to take a deep breath and consider living into a phrase that Beth Ann Beamer said to me this week: “Buckle down and do right.” That pretty much covers it. We are a people of hope. We are in it for the duration. God walks with us—into the times of quiet waiting, and in the moments of greatest danger. I am so thankful that we are in this together.
Blessings and peace, Pastor Nancy
Remember that Vacation Bible School song, “I am the Church?”
I am the church, you are the church,
we are the church together.
All who follow Jesus,, all around the world, Yes! We’re the church together.
The church is not a building,
the church is not a steeple,
the church is not a resting place,
the church is the people!
Yup! That’s about right! If we didn’t know it before, we are definitely learning that now! We ARE the church—no matter where we are. Thank you, everyone, for being the church at home, in the grocery store, at the Food Pantry. We are in this together!
I wanted to give you a few updates about how things are going, and what things are looking like for our re-launch.
Jefferson County has been given permission to move into Phase Two of the State’s plan for reopening. This loosens the restrictions on businesses and gathering of groups. The Greater Northwest Phased re-launch plan is more gradual and restrictive than the state of Oregon’s plan. Our Bishop has repeatedly stated that we will follow the science first, and then dedicate ourselves to doing no harm. Therefore, three requirements must be in place before any relaunching of programs and worship in our buildings:
1. The suspension of in person worship order set by our Bishop is lifted. The current deadline is June 15th, at which time, the Bishop will either extend the suspension, or allow it to expire. We will know this week.
The governor of the state eases restrictions (which has happened).
Each congregation prepares a plan following the Greater Northwest Guidelines, and submits it for approval to our District Superintendent. (We are working on it!)
Our church leaders have been in conversation about how best we can provide the greatest amount of safety to our congregations and neighbors. We don’t want to move ahead, and then find that we have to return to an earlier phase. Each congregation will be attending to their local context and situation as we seek to do no harm. So, where are we?
The Board has created a subgroup of folks who are carefully examining the documents provided by the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. (Twenty-five pages of instructions, so be appreciative!) We are working on a draft for moving into Phase Two. Phase Two will allow up to ten people in the building for online recording for worship. Access to the building will still be limited, and worship will continue to be online.
After we receive permission to move into Phase Two, we will begin working on what Phase Three might look like, but we are not going to be in a hurry. We will do what we can to create innovative opportunities for worship, study and fellowship. God is providing extraordinary opportunities to live, love and serve.
Many blessings! Love to you all. Pastor Nancy
✦ Pastor Nancy is going to take some time off for a little rest and re-set. Worship on June 21st will be a selection of links for worship from other churches in our Greater Northwest Area. We would love to hear your impressions about what others are doing during this time of creativity and innovation.
Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!