“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Wise words for the space in between what was and what will be.
When will we reopen for worship in person? That's the question of the day for many of us. One of the most challenging pieces of social distancing and quarantining has bee the loss of in-person gatherings, especially for worship. I feel it everyday at the church. I long for the vibrancy and community that comes with a people gathered in Christ's name. I'm sure you miss hugging friends, getting updates on life from others, and sharing Holy Communion in worship. We all do.
So when will we reopen? Our siblings in Christ of the Archdiocese of Dubuque have developed their own criteria for opening. Does that mean we will reopen, too? Not exactly. Here's what I need you to understand in order to fully appreciate our timing and plan. The council presidents and pastors of the ELCA congregations of Greater Dubuque met recently to have an open and honest conversation about reopening our buildings. As you might imagine, there were differing opinions ranging from folks wanting to open as soon as possible (defining "possible" is the key) to others convinced that only time will allow for a safe return to gathering in our buildings. Some suggestions included holding services outdoors to minimize the impact. All of our congregations are developing a formal policy for what it will take in order for us to worship in person. Things like cleaning and sanitizing between services and following, who can enter the building and who will be encouraged to continue worshiping online, and where can folks sit in worship to maintain safe distancing, etc. I think you can see the challenge.
So here's what I promise you. We will do our best to make sure that we have thought through all of the necessary details in order to ensure the safest possible environment for our people. We will pray together and talk together, as leaders in this congregation, to make decisions based on the well-being of our people and not rush into the process. We will work hard to tend the awesome responsibility of providing worship for our people. And even when we do reopen, we will continue to offer worship online so that everyone, ALL OF US, are able to participate in the life of our church, together.
Stay tuned. Pray. Reach out to your friends and fellow church members. Pray some more. And soon, sooner than later, we will be together again when it is safe. In the meantime, let us embrace the kind of love the Apostle Paul encourages.
In peace and hope,