Dear Grace Folk,
I wish I had a quick answer to questions about worship. It’s a hard time to be a leader and there isn’t one obvious answer to all the questions about risk must inform our decisions. The reality is, it’s hard to know just how risky certain activities are. That’s why people are making their own decisions, doing things that seem safe many times over, and then, doing it one more time and getting COVID-19, or giving it to someone they love.
Among my Lutheran colleagues and others, there seem to be two basic approaches to doing worship in doors. One is that with a few modifications, going to church is still pretty safe. The other is, that’s true most of the time, but if you get unlucky and one of those super-spreaders comes in, a lot of people can get sick and some can die, so it’s best to stay at home.
Here’s a link to recent short article about it.
Based on those conclusions I think it’s possible that we “could” roll the dice the way we were doing this fall at Grace and, if we’re lucky, not have any problems. But being unlucky would be rough. And the difference from the Fall is that we are surging AND we have this new, more contagious version possibly making things worse. And we are called in the scriptures to be exemplary in caring for one another. We ought not encourage one another to be in denial about the risks and encourage people to do risky things.
To say all that is still a bit vague…and that’s the struggle. So I asked our team last week to give me something other than a vague idea about when we might open again. I requested the best metric that tracks the risk of gathering. Their answer echoes what our Bishop recommended, and which the majority of doctors and nurses emphasize, namely, the “average case positivity rate.” This hovering around 15% in Lancaster Co., needs to be coming down for more than two weeks straight, and ideally it would be under 5% before in-person gathering would be considered safe enough. I think if we are approaching that we might start our modified worship again. It all depends on people not being careless in the meantime and maintaining our distance, masks and hand-washing, and not overwhelming the system.
Another thing I’ve heard but haven’t seen much in writing about – a lot of people complain about restrictions and closures saying, “the reality is, the majority of people get COVID from their family members.” They say that as if you can compare “getting it from your family” to “getting it from a church or a store.” Like that wins the argument…but that is a silly kind of logic. OF COURSE the vast majority of people get it from their family, because the likelihood of you infecting someone you live with is very high, once you have the virus. But the virus isn’t spreading around society by just infecting families out of the blue. One family member got it from somewhere OUTSIDE the family. That’s what we have to slow down and stop.
All this being said, I’m not ready to say that we are staying closed until July! I don’t think anyone knows what the timing of this surge is going to look like, how quickly it will fade. But as soon as it does, we will be ready to open for modified worship…I just can’t predict yet when that will or will not be. God bless us all with patience and hope in these days when so much seems off kilter. And in the meantime, if you or a loved one needs a pastoral call, I am more than willing to visit safely with communion and prayer.
Blessings, Pastor Steve
Grace member Roberta Myers is collecting caps for the Earth Savers Club at Central York High School. If you would like to help—drop off your clean/label free caps to the church office!Thank you for helping to protect our planet!
Learning Pod Update
Flexibility is key and having good support. We have learned thatbeginning on Monday January 25th SDoL students will be encouraged to go back to their schools for in-person learning with the option to stay with virtual or Cyber Pathways learning if the family feels that is best.
(Pictured: Helen, Dr. Rau, and Ayman)
This makes our future as a pod very unclear. We know there is still a definite need for student support – but which students will that be and which age group?
Every day we are discerning the best path forward. We sure have created a bond with our current students at the Dove pod.
Meanwhile we have had a visit from the Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, Dr. Damaris Rau! She came to check out our learning space, meet our students and volunteers and to thank us for the important work of supporting our student’s learning.
Another fun connection: Christine, Norbert’s Mom, brought another friend/refugee who has a daughter that really could use our pod’s support. So now we have our first Kindergartner! May the blessings continue to flow! A big thank you to all who have brought in treats, donations and love to share! Please keep the prayers coming.
Update on Sunday ZOOM Fun for kids
This week we learned about Samuel, Hannah and Eli and how Samuel first heard God’s voice calling him to Prophesy- even when it was uncomfortable for the “hearer”. There are wonderful turns of phrase in Chapter 3 of 1 Samuel.
Then we played Bingo with beautiful cards Patti Hartman had created of pictures and words from all the bible stories we have read together over the last few months. If you missed it don’t worry, we will play again this coming Sunday. Fun fact: We have watched as Cameron Smith runs outside each Sunday morning and shouts an important phrase from each of our lessons for all to hear. Her neighbors are beginning to wonder…Praise God!
Join us at 9:30 am for our zoom Sunday School – best for kids 1-6th grades. Look for the Weekend Updates and links for Worship and Sunday School email from Pastor!
Youth and Confirmation
Youth ZOOM on Sunday mornings!
For youth, grades 6-12, Meghan Kelly and Keith Miller will be leading youth ZOOMS! Confirmation at 9:00 a.m. / High School at 9:45 a.m.
If you would like to participate – please contact Meghan at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the link.
Lectio Divina: Contemplating Logos
You can find the lectio divina resources here or click on lectio divina in the our purple box. The reading for this week is John 1:1-5
January 24, 2021 (Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year B)
And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”– Mark 1:17
Are you ready for a new wellness routine in 2021? Jesus calls all of us to follow him and become fishers of people. It’s a new type of exercise with external benefits where we become Christ’s hands, hands, eyes and heart in this world. Get ready for a real workout Jesus -style!