Over the past few weeks, you have heard us talk about how the season of Lent is a time of preparation. During these few weeks leading up to Easter, we look inward, to examine the state of our lives and to engage in practices that can help us draw closer to God and make us ready to more fully experience the joy of the celebration of the risen Christ on Easter morning. While Lent has already begun, it is not too late to take up some of these practices. Therefore, I encourage each of you to find at least one intentional step or practice that might help you pay attention to God in perhaps a new way.
As we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter, there is preparation of a different sort happening all around us. I am sure that most of you have been following the news related to the spread of the Coronavirus. Discussions of the potential effects of this virus have been taking place among pastors, congregations, and denominations. I want to reassure you all that Starmount will take steps to make our gatherings and worship services as safe as possible.
- You may have noticed last week that our hand sanitizing station has been placed in the narthex, and all are encouraged to make use of it.
- As of now, we will continue with the “Passing of the Peace” portion of our worship service. However, each member is encouraged to participate as they feel comfortable. Fist bumps, elbow taps, or a friendly wave are fine substitutes for a handshake.
- We are not scheduled to celebrate communion by intinction again for a few months, and if further adjustments to our celebration of the Lord’s Supper are needed, we will certainly make those.
- While we always encourage all of the members of our community to attend worship, we encourage you all to use your best judgement if you feel under the weather.
If you have any questions or concerns related to this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact the church office. I will close by sharing with you a prayer that has been written by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PCUSA, J. Herbert Nelson.
“We pray for healing for those who are infected, in China and in all the places where the virus has spread.
We pray for all who already have lost loved ones to the illness and those who will yet suffer such loss.
We pray for doctors, nurses and aides providing medical care, for insight in their caring, and for their health and well-being.
We pray for wisdom for the medical and scientific experts who are desperately seeking ways to control the spread of the virus.
We pray for public officials who must make the hard decisions about the quarantining of those who may have been exposed to the virus; and we pray for all those for whom those decisions feel like unjust imprisonment.
We lift up the Christian church in China and our partners throughout the region as they seek to bring Christ’s healing presence and peace.
We pray for God to keep us alert to the threats posed by such a worldwide crisis, remembering the millions of God’s children who live in places where the availability of medical care is meager or nonexistent.
May God open our hearts, our financial resources, and our political will, so that the vision of a better future can become a reality for all of God’s children.
In the Providence of the God who created us, in the Passion of our Savior Jesus Christ who redeems us, and in the Power of the Holy Spirit through whom God’s will is done. AMEN.”
P.S. – Here are a few of the websites I have found helpful in learning more about this subject.