It’s Getting Cold Outside, So Let’s Get Together and Stay Away From Each Other
Brothers and Sisters,
For my family, the summer has brought a much-needed reprieve from many of the constraints of COVID. Parks, playgrounds, family bike rides—these are just a few of the ways we’ve enjoyed a somewhat “normal” existence without having to bother with masks, distancing, and the rest. Best of all, we’ve been able to gather with friends and family in the safety of the great outdoors.
As the weather cools, getting together will get more complicated for most of us, and I suspect we’ll all feel the weight of COVID more heavily than we have during the warmer months. In light of that, I’d like to tell you about what we’re doing to stay safe and connected at VCL.
Back when the elders decided to close the church, we resolved to approach this entire pandemic from a place of love, not fear. When it came time to deliberate over how we would reopen and what kinds of precautions we would take, love for the people of VCL, our community, and the God who put us here continued to animate our decision-making process.
It still does today.
We haven’t stopped turning over the evidence, evaluating the situation, and seeking God’s wisdom. But for the time being, wearing masks, singing in our hearts, and keeping our distance appear to be the safest and most responsible ways for us to keep worshipping together at VCL.
The key phrase there was “for the time being.” We haven’t stopped looking at the situation and are eager to refine and revise things as we learn more. With that in mind, we want you to talk to us if you have information that you think would be helpful. If you’re not sure why we’re doing something, ask. If you have concerns, raise them. If you see something we can do better, say so. This isn’t the elders’ church; it’s Christ’s church, and all His people have a voice here.
The hardest part about all of this, for many of us, has been the sacrifice we’ve had to make in terms of fellowship. Our church values our time to gather as a family. COVID has put a damper on how we do that and who we get to do it with. Thankfully, the beautiful weather on Sunday mornings has allowed us to enjoy fellowship in the parking lot before and after the worship service. As I mentioned above, though, that opportunity is quickly fading.
That’s why I want to let you know about two things we’re doing to stay connected. First, we’re planning our First Annual (if y’all like this enough to do it again next year) Harvest Fellowship event in the VCL parking lot on Saturday, October 10, at 2:00 PM. Sadly, you won’t be able to watch me or Casey bob for apples, but we will have apple cider, donuts, and plenty of time to sing together and enjoy one another’s company. Please do make it a point to come, as this will be the last chance we have to meet outdoors this year.
Second, this Sunday, we’re bringing our after-service fellowship back inside. While you’re still more than welcome to gather outside, we’ll be inviting folks to stick around in the sanctuary after the service. I’ll have more details for you about how this will work on Sunday morning.
One final note: We’re doing our best to create spaces in which we can worship and enjoy fellowship, but all of this is still a ways off from “normal.” To be honest, I’m eager to be done with all of it. Masks are inconvenient. It’s hard to have a good conversation from 6 feet away. I want to sing in worship. But just because I’m over COVID, that doesn’t mean COVID is over.
So, if you’re like me and you’re ready for us to be done with all this, I feel your pain. I want to encourage you to stay the course, but at the same time, I want you to be honest about where you’re at right now. If you’re sick and tired, say so. Be honest with me, a friend, or your small group. Share your discouragement, and trust the Lord to encourage you through His people.
Our heavenly Father has been faithful to us over these past seven months; He will remain so. We don’t know when and how this thing will end, but we do know that there is joy to be found in our COVID-inspired suffering, for “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5).
May the love of God abound in your hearts through the grace of the Lord Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Your Brother in Christ,