Footsteps to Follow: We are all in this together
For over a year, COVID-19 has held us hostage and threatened our existence. We have all experienced the horror of this virus. All our lives have been forever changed.
With the pandemic continuing and large numbers suffering from it, I am reminded of three essential truths about life in the church.
A physical place for people of God to gather for worship and ministry, while important and meaningful, is not the church. Remember the hymn “We Are The Church” by Avery and Marsh that states, “the church is not a building… the church is a people.”
The church is the people of God brought together by the Holy Spirit for worship and ministry. In March 2020, when St. Mark’s, like all churches in our nation, began locking the doors of its building, the church did not cease to exist.
Our congregational leadership, like others, was forced to think “outside the box.” Virtual worship, group emails, conference calls, pastoral calls by way of mail, zoom, and telephone — all became the norm. To not respond until COVID passed was not an option. The church always needs to be the church.
Were we about this task flawlessly? Absolutely not! But with trust in grace, congregations sought to continue to bring the good news of God’s love to all the world, regardless of situation or experience.
Similarly, need does not cease when the church building is closed. Ministering to people with God’s love is commanded. It is our task; and the work we have to do.
Jesus said, “[The first commandment is] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength… The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31NKJV).
The motto of our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Judicatory is “God’s work, our hands.”
We believe that in Jesus this work is done. But, as people of God, we are not “done.” We are asked to participate in this work: to use ourselves (our hands, minds, and voices) to demonstrate that love and to partner with others to tell the story of God’s love. All Christians share in this obligation. It is our ministry.
Finally, people of God are resilient and dedicated. Our strength and identity as people of God are of divine origin. It will not cease because of any person, nation, or virus. God continues to call the church to be the church.
As God’s grace continues to be shared through the means of grace, so acts of ministry will take place. I pray that the “new ways of doing church” will continue, that sharing God’s love through technology will exist with traditional methods.
Dr. David P. Young, author of “The Speed of Love,” reminds us that technology always moves faster than the wisdom of how best to use it. During this pandemic, people of God discovered how best to use technology for the greater good.
I am hopeful that life held captive by COVID-19 will one day be over. We need to be vigilant, to follow precautions, and if not vaccinated because of stubbornness, to get vaccinated.
The pandemic forced all of us to think of ministry “outside the box.” The principles behind these methods are part of Jesus Christ’s work.
COVID-19 has birthed a popular phrase: We’re All in This Together! Yes, You, Me, and God. Together we will share in the love our Savior has brought and the defeat of COVID-19.
The Rev. Brian D. Vasey is pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 142 Market Street, Williamsport