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From Pastor Susan in the June edition of Within These Red Doors :
With no ‘in-person’ worship as the norm right now, there is one thing I am sure of: there is a future that holds promise, filled with new ideas, new possibilities, and new ways of ‘doing.’
I have learned so much since mid-March – things about myself, my ministry, and the church. Never did I think the only way we could “worship” would be through the Internet! I have had a steep learning curve on how to use my phone to videotape, get it onto my computer, and teach myself how to edit and add voice recordings and music. Placing the completed video on Facebook was a challenge for me at first (again, thank you Jennifer and Will). I hope everyone understands I am still learning and experimenting. And as in ‘real worship’ in ‘real time,’ sometimes things ‘work’ and sometimes they don’t! For example, when I taped May 24th’s Worship Moments I misspelled a word, and for the Children’s Message I had intended to use my computer laptop to ask Siri how to spell “Mississippi.” Turns out, while taping, I had no network connection for internet service in the Sanctuary to make that happen! I had to ‘punt’ and just ‘talk’ about Siri.
I questioned offering Holy Communion during the videotaped Worship Moments. I prayed: “Lord, is this O.K.? Will it be an authentic experience for people? Will it mean the same as when we are together?” In speaking with a colleague, and through reflection, I felt I was being called to a new way to know and show Jesus’ Good News at a time when we truly needed it. After the Communion service went “live” on Maundy Thursday, I was more comfortable with offering the bread of life and the cup of forgiveness on the first Sunday of May. I knew I was offering the remembrance of Christ “with” anyone who was viewing. June 7th we’ll do to again.
What hasn’t changed is the different adventure that unfolds with the particular scripture I am using for the upcoming Sunday. Study, contemplation and prayer, and carefully choosing words that I say is something I do each week. It was one of the “hints” that a lecturer gave during the free, online, live-streamed Homiletics* Festival the week of May 18th. I chose to watch one offering from the Festival each day to “fill my own cup” - to practice self-care as your Pastor. One lecturer had mentioned that carefully choosing words that have meaning for the worshipping public – online – and not specifically for ones’ own congregation - “welcomes all” into the moment. It reinforced what I felt to be true since my seminary days many years ago: choosing words and planning worship is a “science and an art.” Now, more than ever, not only is this important when we have face to face visitors inside the church, it is imperative when “visitors” are watching IUCC’s Worship on the Web. In any case, whether in person, or with online presence we continue to be a Christ-Centered Church who Welcomes All and Serves Others while Deepening Our Faith.
I pray you are learning new things about yourself, your faith and your church during the ‘stay at home’ order. Perhaps you can see how God is breaking into your life in new ways. ‘Sheltering in’ can reveal – and continue to give - new understanding. May we pray about what is important to keep, and what to leave behind, as our future lies before us.
Yours in Christ, Pastor Susan
*Homiletics is the art of writing and preaching sermons; from the word homily.