Beloved Epworth Community,
Spring greetings to each of you! As we’ve just passed the equinox, we are fully in the season new life and fresh growth. I hope you’ve had an opportunity to enjoy the song of birds, the buds on trees and flowers, and the very exquisite green that fills our world this time of year.
We are also moving into a time in which we can begin to think about resuming some of our pre-pandemic activity and gathering. The Do No Harm committee is meeting every other week to assess how to support all the needs of our community: physical and mental health needs, as well as emotional and spiritual needs. At this point, the building remains closed, and in person gatherings are being assessed on a case-by-case basis for compliance with conference, city, county and state guidelines. After Easter, we’ll be sending out a survey that seeks your input about returning to in-person worship, group meetings, and interim gatherings in neighborhoods. I hope you’ll be on the lookout for it and share your thoughts.
I am excited to gather with you for an in-person outdoor Easter Sunrise service with masks and social distance! If you plan to come (or think you might like to come), please RSVP so that we have a sense of how many will be present. The service begins at 6:30am and will be held at the Hs. Lordships parking lot in the Berkeley Marina. Follow the Marina signs for Hs. Lordships to the parking strip that faces the Bay. Hosts and ushers will be on hand to guide where to set up your chairs (please bring your own, or let us know if you are unable to do so). No refreshments will be served but individually packed communion sets will be available for all as well as hand sanitizer. We will also have our Easter celebration service online at 10am on Facebook, YouTube and our website.
The planning for this service has underscored that there are still many logistical challenges related to gathering. One of the concerns of Do No Harm is to not exacerbate access issues, anxiety, or feelings of isolation for those who are not vaccinated by opening opportunities quickly for those who are vaccinated. There is much to consider. But I do believe that with God’s help, and in following our General Rules of doing no harm, doing all the good we can, and staying in love with God, we will be held in good stead.
May the God of grace bless you and keep you,
P.S. Don’t forget about tomorrow’s First Dinner experience in which we’ll be honoring essential workers in the Epworth congregation. It begins at 7:30 on Zoom. The service includes a time for you to eat some dinner or a snack and concludes with communion. Hope to see you then.
3/12/21 Update: On the anniversary of living with a pandemic
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31
Beloved Epworth Family, This is a week of anniversaries. Not in the sense of celebrations or longed-for milestones, but in our journey of living with a pandemic. The Sunday that just passed was the anniversary of the last time we worshipped together in our sanctuary, and the Sunday coming was the first Sunday we moved our worship and community life online. This week last year we were frantically reading and listening to news stories, trying to understand everything we could about the new virus. We were also meeting and discerning if and when we should close the building and stop meeting. Saturday is the anniversary of the closure of the Epworth building until further notice. The anniversary of a traumatic event is no small thing. Feelings associated with the original trauma may come unbidden. We might be outside enjoying the spring weather and all of a sudden feel cold and alone. We might be preparing for a vaccine appointment and be surprised by a feeling of hopelessness. Even as we can see the end of the pandemic coming and there is good news every day, the losses we have experienced in the last year are real and come up in surprising ways, particularly around anniversaries. I want to encourage you to be gentle with yourselves and each other particularly this week. Fear and sadness can sometimes manifest in anger, anxiety, or just more fear and sadness. If this is not where you are emotionally and spiritually, great! But just know that this might be going on for others. In our Do No Harm meeting on Sunday, one of our member’s quipped, “We are in the 54th week of Lent.” We had just begun Lent last year when all shut downs happened and we are here again in Lent. The work of Lent is to be honest about our true feelings, even when they are difficult and to invite God into our hearts in new ways. We know we follow a Great Physician who brings healing and hope in surprising and constant ways. The Good News is that God is always with us, and as Isaiah says, “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.” If you are a feeling the impact of this traumatic anniversary, know that God is with you. Consider reaching out to a friend in faith, or to any one of our ministry staff for prayer and conversation. I am always grateful for opportunities to pray together and to know what is really going on. Be well, and know that you are in my prayers, Pastor Kristin