Pastor’s Friday Comments (04.17.20)

Something I could not have predicted has occurred for Parkway during this time apart. Our connections with each other have gotten more numerous, albeit perhaps not as strong as they would have been were we able to be physically present with each other.

Wednesday night we had the highest attendance at the mid-week prayer service in years.

The Sunday School class Linda and I lead has had nearly perfect attendance for the past four weeks in a row, something that seldom occurred when we met in the building. Other classes are reporting similar results.

I have anecdotal reports that deacons are keeping in even closer touch with their flocks than they were before (and their level of care was already exemplary). Members are reaching out to anyone who could even be suspected of having a need that others in the church family could meet. I know I have had more in-depth conversations with members in this past month than in the past year.

Since we mail out the material for the interactive worship services to everyone, and have no mechanism for discovering how many actually utilize them, I can’t say how worship attendance has been, but many of those who are availing themselves of these materials have expressed appreciation, feeling we are doing the best we can under the circumstances.

And I am very happy to report that, despite our inability to pass the offering plate, your giving to support the ministries and programs of the church has been outstanding. (Please keep it up!)

I don’t know that any of us took the ability to gather each week for granted, but, now that we can’t be physically present with one another, it seems that participating in virtual meetings has become an essential part of our routine. I have some hopes for how this will affect our fellowship in the future.

I hope that, when our movements are less restricted and it is safe to be together again, even though we will have other choices we could make, we will continue to make concerted efforts to be consistent in our attendance. We will recognize not only what it means to us, but what our presence means to others.

I hope we will pay closer attention to one another. I heard many years ago that we should treat everyone as if we know a terrible secret about them – that this would be the last day of that person’s life. Just a few weeks ago it was understandable that we treated our relationships casually because we assumed that we would have plenty of other opportunities to see one another. And then, with little warning, that privilege was taken away for a time. When the privilege is restored, I hope we will treat it as just that, a privilege not to be taken for granted.

I hope that, when it is absolutely safe to do so, we will reinstitute the hugs that have been so characteristic of our church family, and will have a greater appreciation for our ability to bestow them. I know a higher level of caution will be in order, but I hate to think we are going to be literally standoffish, something that has never been true before.

And I hope that this time when we have been limited in our activities will have allowed us to spend more time in prayer, Bible study, and personal reflection that will be a habit we carry with us into our future.

None of us would have wished for the challenges that we face. Certainly none of us would desire the level of suffering, both physical and economic, that so many are facing and may face for some time to come. But I believe that the God who took what seemed to be the ultimate tragedy, the death of an innocent man, and used it as the perfect instrument of love and power, can take this time and use it for a greater purpose for all of us.

Join me in these hopes, and allow God to help you turn them into realities.