May 2020 Newsletter
As I write this May newsletter, it has been six weeks since we have been able to gather for worship in our sanctuary. We all know a lot has changed in our lives in these past weeks, in both big and small ways. I haven’t needed to put gas in my car, haven’t been able to do any visitation in person, haven’t been able to offer the sacrament of Communion, haven’t eaten at a restaurant, haven’t shopped in person for anything beyond groceries, haven’t been able to visit with friends or family, and haven’t been able to take Luke to his school or any of those fun outings we like to do in the spring time. I’ve listed the things I haven’t been able to do but there’s also a list of things I have been able to do more with these changes. I HAVE been writing more letters, spending more one on one time with Luke, reading more books, attended worship as a participant and not the pastor, checked in more with friends I haven’t talked to in a while, and spent more time in Bible study and worship preparation. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the purpose and meaning of worship.
Maybe you have been reflecting on that question as well as I know many of you now worship at different churches throughout the week thanks to technology and the need for all churches to move worship online. What a blessing that on any given Sunday you can attend worship in just about any city across the country from the comfort of your home. This is such a blessing but it also opens up conversations on why we gather for worship. Why do you attend worship on Sundays in a sanctuary? Is it the music and congregational singing? The reading of scripture and preaching? Is it the community prayer time and opportunity to share our joys and concerns? Is it connection you feel with God and your neighbor? There is no-one-right-answer to the question but in moving worship online I’ve been reflecting more and more about how the experience of worship must differ from the consumption of your favorite movie or television show on Netflix. Worship is something to experience, not consume.
It is within these questions that led me to the format of our current online worship at Epworth. I felt called to the Zoom format of worship because you can see the faces of your church family and/ or hear their voices. If you haven’t tried Zoom yet or don’t know how please contact our church office because we’d love to see you! For those of you who watch on Facebook, please consider joining a “watchparty” at 10:45 AM so you can comment as you watch and “see” your church family. (Please make sure you “like” our facebook page to see updates and events.) I felt it was important to maintain our sense of connection as a church family. Worship is an experience that changes you which is also why I’ve included a reflection time in worship following my message as we allow the word of God to challenge and change us. While I always ask questions or leave challenges in my sermons, I felt that it was important to make the time to talk or pray about those questions and prompts. This is one aspect of worship I will continue whenever we get back to our sanctuary.
Psalm 95: 1-2 & 6-7 invites us to worship in this way:
“O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
It is my hope and prayer that you are making time to truly experience worship in powerful ways by connecting with others, listening to music, reading and responding to scripture, going to God with your questions and honesty, talking to God while walking or sitting outside, or praying for your neighbors. You might want to try some time worshipping with the spiritual practice of coloring found in the newsletter this month by making a joyful noise with your hands and in color! However you are experiencing worship, may it draw you nearer to the Creator and to your neighbor.