In the "In-Between" Times
posted on May 01
In the “In-Between” Times
Each day we have a choice to be a person of kindness to ourselves and the world or find ourselves hiding in the empty tomb in fear. As I find my way out of the tomb, I find my heart is in two places, one right in the midst of family and another looking out my window seeking what is next for our world. These in-between times are the best times to sit and have a specific conversation. This conversation cannot be one of answers, but one of gratitude and strength for the act of fellowship. Being with God and others holding what is and not forcing an agenda of knowing God’s plan or creating our own.
Phone calls and video chats do not seem holy enough for such a conversation. It would seem a porch, pew, or table would be a place to hold a space to just be with God and be with each other. Yet, do not limit holiness to what is familiar. A phone call to tell a story or a laugh with a familiar virtual face is all that is needed as we discern the next phase for the church.
Across our district, clergy and laity are taking one real conversation at a time as the best start to renew our work as the church. They embody a conversation to be together and not a means to an end with the answers we need. So please take this sacred time for a conversation of just enjoying one another as Easter people still learning what resurrection will bring each day.
There have been many questions about the next phases ahead. For those who want more food for thought. Right now we can hold on to these questions from the Wisconsin Council of Churches. https://www.wichurches.org/2020/04/23/returning-to-church/. These are not questions that need answers right now. These are questions to hold as a place for your church to discover your way of being the hands and feet of Christ. These are questions for conversations that are based on being with God and each other and not an equation to just be sterilized. These questions will evolve into more conversation about what God is calling us to be for the world.
Hold on to the sacred time of being and not limit what God has in store for your community and your heart. Be with God in these conversations and maybe we will see what is invisible to the eye and yet evident to our heart.
Peace and Grace,
From the Wisconsin Council of Churches:
Questions for Church Leadership to Consider
We offer this list of questions for the church Council/Vestry/Session/Consistory and Committees to consider in consultation with their clergy. We recommend that you work through these questions before re-launch:
- Has your insurance company weighed in on benchmarks for reopening, and for operating any programs? Your judicatory leader (Bishop, Presbyter, Conference Minister or other authority)? How will these influence your decision?
- Will you maintain an online streaming option once you are back together worshiping in physical space? How will that need to adjust when there is also in-person worship happening?
- How many people can your worship space hold if you are worshiping in family groups sitting 6 feet apart?
- How will you discourage the receiving line after church and/or congregating after worship services?
- When in earlier phases of relaunch, how will you cap attendance at events so there is room for members of the community to join you and so you don’t go over guidelines?
- How can you encourage small group gatherings with the building of small group, discipleship systems, etc in the earlier phases of relaunching – possibly even before we move from Safer at Home into Phase One? How might you continue these when in-person worship resumes?
- How will you ensure sanitation and disinfection in regards to communal spaces?
- Worship bulletin disposal, prayerbooks, etc
- Areas where small groups gather during the week
- Nurseries and/or playgrounds
- Pews or chairs following worship
- Doorknobs, bathrooms, other areas that people touch when in your building
- How will you update your building use agreements to reflect the new realities of COVID-19?
- If someone contracts COVID-19, how will you communicate with your congregation and members who may have come into contact with that individual while maintaining privacy and pastoral care?
- If someone who has been in your building contracts COVID-19, how will you do a more intensive cleaning prior to its next use?
- How will you communicate your safety plan and best practices to the congregation?