As I am writing this Pastor Ponderings, I sit in one of the most difficult decision times of my life. I write this pondering out of love for the Claybanks United Methodist Church. When will we be able to more safely meet in person together as the Body of Christ? I and along with many other church leaders as part of a Christian body lead and guide in a time of considerable uncertainty and with a prayerful hope that we as God’s people are able to work through this, “Once in a lifetime event”. First Corinthians 16:4 speaks to us, “Let all that you do be done in love” and I am also reminded of Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We may be slowly approaching a time when we may once again be able to gather in worship. At the time of this writing we believe it will be at a time after June 15th when the State of Michigan may lift the Emergency Order that will allow for groups of 10 or more to gather in the same place. Bishop Bard and others in leadership in the Michigan Area Conference of the United Methodist Church have developed guidelines to assist us in gathering more safely as we returned to “A more normal church” as we might remember and have experienced in our lifetime. We will only do this under and with extreme caution. The difficulty for us is gathering all the different resources that are needed and the trust that is needed for us to come together in a safe manor. I believe that trust is one of the greatest resources in human society. In a reading that I have done most recently written by Paul Nixon who encourages us as a community to develop relationships with others and in so doing we will develop a level of trust through respect, friendship, and love. In trust we develop a covenant of mutual respect and love for each other and that forms a kind of canopy, a protection so that we can come together as members of the church to fulfill the many different missions that a church provides not only for us but others of our church and community.
We have been living with Covid – 19 for over three months now and it has made an impact on our lives that none of us could have ever predicted. We are still living in a time of uncertainty as to how long we will have to adjust to a new, “Normal”. The leaders of our church are working to develop a new playbook that will honor the mission of our church and the community that we at Claybanks United Methodist Church serve. We are striving to make the most of our organization’s assets: our people, our finances, our relationships, and our trust for each other to work together.
The past three months have brought to us a time for grieving, and as I look into the future we will continue to grieve for the loss of many lives. Some lives of people that we have known, and others lives known also to God. We also grieve for the many of the things that we have loved to do that will be forever changed. The way we worship, how we work, how we enjoy recreation and how we see what God has given us in the world around us. We grieve the changes and adjustments of our relationships and even how we will use our time differently. Yet, in this time I believe we can form a new vision and a new hope. For during this these past few months, we have learned to enjoy even the smallest things of life that we had previously passed over.
We can look forward to new ways to be challenged as we are being presented new ways in which to learn and to change. For we have been afforded an opportunity to explore the depths in our lives and in our souls as our hearts are strangely warmed as Christians. It is through this challenge of testing of our faith we recognize that we have been strengthened through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior. Let us act boldly today and tomorrow building the best world we can for the love of our neighbor and the glory of God