When Being Together Is Risky
Yesterday I made a decision that I never thought I would have to make, I suspended in-person worship out of an abundance of caution. The idea of not gathering for worship on a Sunday seems so counter-intuitive, especially in a time of great national concern. It is from our community of faith that we collectively feel the strength to face whatever crisis or uncertainty lies ahead of us. There is something energizing and life-giving when we share our faith together. The COVID 19 pandemic has necessitated a temporary change in how we think about this. Even though my deepest instinct is that at such a time as this we need to be together, it is far too risky at this time. The very nature of the virus makes it a prudent choice. If by sacrificing our sacred time together we are able to flatten the transmission curve in our community thereby reducing all of our exposure to the virus, then that is the most faithful thing we can do to protect one another, our family and the community at large.
A Very Efficient Virus
Health experts have referred to COVID 19 as a very efficient virus. It can live longer outside the body. It is easily transmittable. People infected with the virus can transmit it to others for several days before they become symptomatic. While the vast majority of people who contract the virus will show mild to moderate symptoms, as many as 1 in 5 persons could develop moderate to severe symptoms, some requiring hospitalization. These factors combined make it a risky proposition to gather together in large groups, even for something as important as worship. While some might propose that the highest risk persons remain at home during this time, much like we do around common influenza, this doesn’t solve the large transmission concerns. According to Public Health officials, the best response we can make at this point is to do everything we can to flatten the transmission curve. For more information please click this link to seek guidance from the California Department of Public Health.
A Different Kind of Worship
Even though it is risky for us to be physically present with one another, we can still be virtually present together in worship. Through the wonders of technology, we will be able to livestream Sunday’s worship in real time over our YouTube Channel, Redlands First UMC. It will begin prior to 9:30 am with a prelude and then proceed much like in-person worship. Our shared Liturgy will be available to you, the words to our hymns will likewise be available. There will even be a small cohort of people that will lead singing. The only thing missing will be the Anthem by our Sanctuary Choir. Though absent from one another, we will be able to experience worship at the same time. This will be a new experience for all of us. I will work with our tech team to test run all of the components. Rest assured if we end up with glitches, we will address them with all possible speed. Together, with God’s grace, we will persevere as we make this sacrifice for the wellness of the greater community.
One Final Word
During this time of separation, I encourage the RFUMC community to reach out to one another, making use of phone calls, email and social media to provide support this week. Without the regular contacts to which we have become accustom, it will be easy for people to feel isolated. Though it will be more challenging to meet in our groups, one to one contact will be golden. If you are self-quarantining or are ill and need assistance in obtaining food and supplies, please call the church office and we will make sure you can get what you need.