Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I greet you, Beloved of God, as we approach a Holy Week like we have never experienced before. The global Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our normal rhythm of Lenten Bible studies, small group gatherings, children’s activities, and musical offerings for Palm Sunday and Easter. We normally look for extra visitors and full sanctuaries when we declare Jesus Christ has risen, risen indeed!
The COVID-19 health crisis has called for prayer and participation in social and physical distancing in order that we might reduce the spread of this serious illness. I am praying for a breakthrough that will end this crisis as our frontline healthcare workers do all they can to care for the sick. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Our mission remains as we serve with compassion in a Church that defines itself as being a community of connections. We are harbingers of hope and recognize our fears while we feed on our faith. I am encouraged by the messages from lay and clergy who declare they will do all the good they can to serve, check on others, and support the church with prayers, gifts, and witness, even if they are not able to support the church with their Sunday presence in the gathering of sanctuary worship.
Thank you for the multiple ways you are connecting via worship and service using new and old platforms. The introduction to the Baptismal Covenant III found in the United Methodist Hymnal is a helpful reminder, “The Church is of God, and will be preserved to the end of time, for the conduct of worship and the due administration of God’s word and Sacraments, the maintenance of Christian fellowship and discipline, and the edification of believers and the conversion of the world. ALL of every age and station, stand in need of the means of grace which it alone supplies.”
We are staying at home and staying in touch. While not designed for confinement, we are most definitely made for community. “For we are what God made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10 NRSV) May it be well with your soul as we approach this Holy Week, and may peace and love abide in your home.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble