Earlier this week I was making some phone visits, and everyone asked the same question: When will we hold open worship in the sanctuary again? The responsible answer remains the same: We don’t know.
This Tuesday night, Session will meet and talk about all our normal business, and among the routine things we discuss these days is the progression of the pandemic and the recommendations from our Emergency Response Team (which is keeping a very close eye on the latest reports and trends). While no one knows where that conversation will lead, indications are that we will continue online worship at least through June. Until we see a verifiable decline in the number of cases, love for neighbor will continue to require us to be patient with our circumstances and with each other. We simply can’t afford to risk gathering a high-risk population for in-person worship.
A friend of mine shared a great image to help us think about how easily the coronavirus spreads: Imagine a Sunday School room full of five-year-olds. It’s early December. Their teacher has a wonderful art project planned for them—they’re going to make Christmas cards for shut-ins. When the kids enter the classroom, the teacher opens bottles of red, green, gold, and silver glitter. By the time Sunday school is over, how many kids will look like enormous sugar cookies covered with sprinkles? What will the table look like? What will the floor look like? What will the restrooms look like?
See where this is going?
The coronavirus is more contagious than glitter, and it’s harder to clean up. I, for one, cannot encourage us to get together when there’s just so much potential for “spreading the glitter.” It may be that if people in our area suddenly get much more serious about practicing social distancing and wearing masks, we’ll see enough of a drop in a couple of months to consider a partial re-opening. But go to a grocery store, or Lowe’s, or watch people in town on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see just how lightly people are taking the risk of infection. It seems that many people consider the virus as harmless as glitter, and that masks signal weakness rather than a strong love of neighbor and self.
While we’re all tired of separation, we would forget that fatigue in seconds if we had to get used to losing people we love. I love all of you and want to keep on loving you. If you’d like to, mail me a greeting card. Cover it with Elmer’s Glue and glitter. I’ll open it and enjoy it. And when I quit finding glitter in my kitchen, I’ll call you and thank you for it.
While you wait for me to call, do something constructive. Write a novel. Restore an old car. Become fluent in Urdu. I look forward to our talk!
My name is Allen Huff. I am a Presbyterian pastor (PCUSA) living in the delightful community of Jonesborough, TN. Jonesborough - home of the International Storytelling Center and the National Storytelling Festival - is nestled in the beautiful foothills of northeast Tennessee.
I find that preaching forces me to wrestle with God, my faith, and trying to live as a Jesus-follower in a broken and all-too-often violent world. I want to be known as someone who trusts and follows the Jesus' way of compassion, peace, and justice. I also know the road of discipleship is fraught with challenges from within and without. I tend to use my sermons as a way of struggling, like Jacob at the Jabbok River, with God and with how to make sense of life in this magnificent but incomplete creation. If something you read in these sermons, newsletter articles, and occasional, random musing speaks to you in a positive way, I will be grateful. I'd love to hear your thoughts, too. And feel free to take issue with anything I say. I certainly don't claim to have a lock on the truth.
When I'm not writing sermons, I may be writing songs on my guitar, taking photographs of the mountains, rivers, or streams in east TN and western NC, hiking the woods with my wife, or throwing a stick for our insatiable Border Collie, Todd.
*I have been posting my weekly sermons and monthly newsletters for several years on another site, Storied Faith at: pastorallentn.blogspot.com. While I will soon stop posting on that site, I will maintain it. So if you find anything on either of these sites interesting and helpful, please share with others!
Blessings and peace. Allen
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One thought on “Don’t Spread the Glitter (Congregational Letter)”
Awesome Allen! Blessings to you.
Sent from my iPad