What’s next at MLC? A.k.a., how to stay connected and in community.

Shalom y’all-

First of all – I hope everybody is safe and sound and not yet beginning to go stir crazy.  To answer a question that I’ve gotten a lot – yes, Helene and I managed to get moved in on Sunday, andare currently in the process of unpacking all of our things.  We got the kitchen (priority 1) done last night, and will be moving room-by-room over the next couple days/weeks.
Next question: what’s going to happen with church during the next few weeks?  Good question.  I’m not really sure.  Okay, okay, joking aside, the reality is that we’re trying to figure things out as we go.  Believe it or not, there is no manual for how to do church in the case of a global pandemic.  Who knew?  That being said, there are several commitments that I am going to make for how things will be during this time.

Commitment 1:
There will be a “version” of everything.  In other words, we will do something in place of Sunday morning service, we will do something in place of Wednesday evening service, there will be something in place of adult education, etc., etc.  What this looks like is still a little up in the air.  The fun part about all of this (fun might be a little strong) is that situations like this give the opportunity to innovate and try new things.  Something that I have already made up my mind about is that we are not going to try to just do a live-streamed or recorded version of a normal worship service.  I’m sorry if that disappoints all y’all, but realistically, I just can’t do it.  Aside from the amount of coordination plus tech support that we would need, I just don’t like the idea of it.  What I would rather do is create content that you all can use to worship in your homes, not just watch me do all the things.  Consequently, what Sunday morning will probably look like will be several things:

1.  Sermon: A recorded text conversation similar to what Sara and I did last week.  We’re going to try to keep it a bit shorter this time, but we really liked what we did, and got good feedback from folks.

2.  Music:  Kari Liebert has volunteered to record the hymns that we had scheduled for this week so that we can share them with you.  Yes, you could probably go online and find a version of the songs on YouTube, but Kari offered, and I really like the idea of listening to (or singing along with) a familiar voice.  I have also begun exploring a similar idea with Kit regarding music from the 11am service, we get a balancing of genres.

3.  Liturgy/prayer/scripture:  Stephanie is scanning the celebrates for each week, and so we’ll be making those available digitally, so you have access to prayers/readings/etc.  Additionally, we will be sending out our existing prayer list so that we can keep praying for each other and our loved ones.  The prayer chain is a great way to get those prayers to us if you have them, and/or you can just call up the office.

4.  Communion: No, we are not going to do drive-thru communion.  That really defeats the purpose of the whole thing.  Communion, at its most basic level, is all about a shared meal.  Every time you gather together with your family and/or friends around food, you are partaking in communion.  Christ is present at your table.  If you are eating alone, I invite you to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving, and perhaps, once a week (or more often), you might think about reciting the words of institution aloud or in your head.  We will send those to you, so you have them on hand.  Feel free to share those words during your family meal as well.  No, the theology police aren’t going to track you down.

5.  Adult Education: I’m still thinking about this one.  I’m thinking to potentially do a Zoom meeting that all y’all can participate in, and recording that meeting to publish later.  More on that to come.

6.  Midweek service: I’m literally in the process of putting together a conversation and a devotional for tomorrow night.  This one is pretty easy, actually.  In coming weeks, I might also try to do this as a Zoom meeting, but for now, I’ll just record some stuff.

Commitment 2:
We will continue to be community during this time.  For the time being, Stephanie and I are coming into the office pretty much every day as we normally would.  If things change, e.g. quarantine or lockdown, that may change, but for now we’re trying to keep the wheels on the bus, so-to-speak.  Stephanie has given me permission to tell y’all that, if you’re feeling lonely, feel free to call in during office hours and she’d love to chat with you.  I’m still undecided (joking).  Also, as I said in my Facebook (*gasp* yes, I used Facebook), please continue to stay in touch with each other.  For now, we can still gather in small groups; but feel free to use those fancy telephones y’all have.  Be social!

Commitment 3:
We will continue to keep things running.  Obviously, there is a whole lot less “business” to deal with right now, but council will continue to meet (virtually), and the money counters are still collecting donations whether they are mailed in or dropped off.  On the plus side, our heating and lighting bill is going to be a lot cheaper!

Long-story-short, it is my hope that we as Christians will be a stabilizing, calming, and hope-filled witness to our world throughout this time of crisis, and we, your church staff, are going to do everything that we can to help do the same.  If you have any questions or ideas, feel free to get a hold of us, either by phone (during office hours) or via email.  Feedback is absolutely invited, especially as we experiment with things.  We don’t expect to get it right on the first try every time, and we would appreciate your help in figuring out how to do things better.

Okay, that’s all for now.  Blessings to all of you,