“May you live in interesting times” is an expression that I have been thinking about a lot lately. We certainly live in interesting times now that the COVID-19 pandemic is upon us. Our governor, Tim Walz, has asked us to stay at home for the next two weeks not to “flatten the curve” of this new coronavirus, for it is too late for that, but to push out to a later date the peak of the virus so that health care providers in the state can have enough time to put extra ventilators and hospital beds in place.
We certainly live in interesting times and though that expression is meant to be more of a curse than a blessing, we can still wring blessing out of these times, with the help of Christ.
Bishop Ough, resident bishop of the Minnesota Annual Conference, is requesting that all United Methodist congregations in Minnesota suspend in-person worship until at least May 10, in compliance with the Center for Disease Control’s eight week ban on gatherings of 50 people or more.
So even though we cannot see each other in person, we are still able to connect with each other online. Our secretary, Michelle, and members of my family have stepped up to help figure out the multiple details needed for online worship. Adrian and Jan and Jasmine helped lead music at our first online worship and stayed late on a Thursday night until it was done.
Even though we can’t gather together, we can still be the church, because the church isn’t the building, it is the people. Even though we can’t join together in person for Easter on April 12, Easter cannot be canceled. The resurrection cannot be stopped.
In a letter to all our Minnesota United Methodist congregations, Bishop Ough wrote: “As you already know, Easter does not come on the same date every year. Therefore, especially in a crisis, we can celebrate Easter anytime. Indeed, every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. We are called to live in the joy and victory of Easter every day.”
As many of you know, I was planning to go on a Clergy Renewal Leave beginning April 20, but that has now been pushed back to May 18, at which time I plan to take three months renewal leave, with an additional month of leave planned for the fall. Like many things that we have come to rely on, this may also change, but for now this is my plan.
I look forward to the day that we can all be reunited in the sanctuary at Wyoming Church, but until that time, be assured that the good news of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be stopped by COVID-19.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!