Pastor's Message - View from the Pulpit...
Friends, this is not what we would have wanted, but the Coronavirus didn’t ask. We’ve missed Easter together. And so much of summer (and spring and fall), too. The Strawberry Festival, Park Supper, and Pig Roast. All kinds of committee meetings, activities, and visitations.
That is just a small list, and only within our faith community of New Goshenhoppen Church. When one thinks of all those who are part of this congregation, there is a whole variety of pursuits beyond the faith commitments in our lives, which have been altered, postponed, cancelled, moved, downsized, or irrevocably changed. We keep hearing the word “unprecedented.” We hear and use the phrase “maybe next year,” and it doesn’t have anything to do this time with some underperforming sports team.
I ended last month’s Senior Pastor Column on a hopeful note asking us to be thinking about some unanticipated, admittedly small silver linings in the face of this huge pandemic. It was a good process to engage. But when I
turn to thinking about the coming months of December and January I want to cry out “no, not the holidays too!” How long are we to continue striving for optimism? How long living with such self-discipline? How long before we can go longer than 5 minutes without washing our hands?
In this newsletter issue we hear about and begin to absorb decisions made in the name of continuing to protect the health of our congregation and the community beyond. As I referred to last month, I am trying to see them as opportunities to see a different way of doing things brought on by an adversary we would never have chosen, but nevertheless also with a clear eyed understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. There is real hope at the end of this long dark tunnel, but it is a continuing challenge to remember that in the midst of the journey.
I grew up not far from the Schuylkill (the River, not the Expressway), and though I personally never had to encounter rising river flood waters, I remember that in the region there would be talk of whether this or that flood was a “100 year” occurrence or not, meaning people would hopefully only need to worry about it once a century. We are told that the last time people dealt with a pandemic as terrible as this was just over one hundred years ago, and thus by extension, our hope is that we will never have to encounter such a difficult time again in our lifetimes or even in the lifetimes of our children. While there are no guarantees, thinking about it in such a way may begin to give some perspective. But though some may say that this might be a blip in the great history of the world, or even the three hundred year history of New Goshenhoppen Church, it affects us now, our lives now, and the lives of those we love.
Back in the spring I used to think that there would be a great day when we could look forward to coming back together in a big way. I joked with those who have gotten used to joining in worship in front of their computer screens in their pajamas that we’d have to have a pajama Sunday! But then as this crisis continued to lengthen I realized that as correctives roll out, it probably will look like a longer process of re-engagement and not one big “do” to get it over with. I hope I am still here as Interim Senior Pastor when the return begins to take place, but whether or not I am, it will be a blessed time, and whether or not I am, it won’t be back to precisely what it was back then. We have learned new things and new ways, and undoubtedly, we are a changed people. May God’s blessings comfort us in the changes.