PASSING THE PEACE IN THE SEASON OF COVID-19
“As we hear alarming headlines and are genuinely concerned for our own safety and that of those around us, how do we pass on God’s peace, but not the virus?”
I wrote that before March 15, when we really were unsure what the following weeks would look like. Since March 22, we have been worshiping digitally as a zoom meeting. Bishop Jim Gonia, the Rocky Mountain Synod, has encouraged all ELCA congregations in the Rocky Mountain Synod, regardless of location or number of congregants, suspend public worship gatherings, events and meetings through at least the end of May. I expect that our return to in person worship will be gradual after that.
We have been passing the peace via zoom. And that circle of peace has touched international guests and guests from many states. We have gotten accustomed to alternative styles of greeting one another. Our usual sign of peace toward one another is replaced with touching your own heart as you speak, or making a slight bow. Even wearing a mask now conveys a sense of concern and connection to the other. And we are learning to “check in” with one another via the internet; a poor but needed replacement from the sharing we enjoyed before Covid19.
There is a page on the RMSELCA.org website with numerous links and general recommendations for congregations as we search for ways to be church at this time. Responding to the Corona Virus: https://www.rmselca.org/corona-virus
Next, be at peace about not coming to church. I encourage you to use this time to study God’s word, to pray for the world, and to reach out to your neighbors by phone or other devices. Volunteer to help us make the weekly zoom worship particularly meaningful at this time. Be still and know God in ways that you might have ignored before this. Keep naming the many things you are grateful for, even as you lament the things we miss.
And finally, remember that we are Church for the peace of the world. We are part of an affluent community. I urge you to remember those for whom the inconveniences that we face go much further than toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Remember the poor; those who have no “Plan B” for child-care or for paying the rent when hours are cut or jobs are lost.
Do not stop passing the peace, Dear Church.