On May 15th Pastor Matthias wrote:
Dear CPUC Community,
I have been drawn to thinking about the Babylonian Exile this past week. In 597 BCE, Jerusalem was besieged by Babylonians and most of the Israelites were marched into exile in Babylon.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke with God and proclaimed that the Israelites would not return to Jerusalem for 70 years. You can imagine how well that was received! Jeremiah was not a popular figure. Meanwhile, other seers and “prophets” were declaring that they’d return any day now, back to Jerusalem and life as normal.
In our day, we see this too. Those advising caution, extreme care in any steps towards “re-opening,” and preparation for subsequent waves of COVID-19 are poo pooed. It is not what people want to hear.
Last night Council discerned and decided to continue our suspension of in-person worship and gatherings at the church building through Labor Day (Sept. 7). While this may feel surprising, and is certainly hard to bear, Council’s decision was driven by science, utmost of care for our congregation and community, and deep faith in the power of God at work in our collective life. It is heart-breaking to be apart, and we choose to exercise our freedom and faith to avoid wanton spread of illness and death. I or other Council Members are available to talk more about this decision with you.
Again, I am drawn back to Jeremiah. See, God also told Jeremiah to proclaim to the Israelites a command to settle into their life in Babylon. God tells them to plant crops, plan for this period of exile, and to seek the welfare of the city where they find themselves.
Similarly, we are called to seek the well-bring of others, find ways to flourish and plan and live during this extended time of pandemic. To that end, we’ll be thinking about new ways we can explore being church over the summer months. A small team from Council will be brainstorming and planning, and we’d welcome other ideas and voices.
This passage from Jeremiah wraps up with God giving this assurance: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says Adonai, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
Let us embrace this promise of grace and seek to be God’s partners in this time of sacred distancing.