Wesley Church is canceling worship for the next 2 Sundays Worship will be streamed on Facebook at 10 AM
I knelt down in front of my children and asked them, “Have you been hearing anyone talk about a virus going around? Something called coronavirus?” They told me what they had heard in school, what they had overheard as Keith and I watched the news. We talked about the basics: Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Cough into your sleeve. Wash your hands again. I gave them each a small bottle of hand sanitizer, saying: This is for times when you can’t find a place to wash with soap and water. Keep it in your pocket. Don’t lose it — Mommy can’t buy more.
“Do you have any questions?” I asked.
And then my daughter looked up at me and said: “Mommy, what’s a virus?”
What’s a virus. As I talked with my children, I found myself continually wondering: What do I say? How do I say it? How do I help them understand what’s going on? How do I do it without scaring them?
I don’t want fear to take over my children’s lives. I don’t want fear to take over any of our lives. And yet, we are living in a time that — for so many of us — is fearful.
Earlier today, Governor Wolf announced a two-week closure of all K-12 public schools in Pennsylvania. It is a drastic response to the coronavirus, one intended to limit exposure and slow the spread of the virus. It invites a drastic response of our own. While it had been my intention — and my deep hope — to hold our regular worship services this week, it no longer feels appropriate to do so. To that end, we have chosen to cancel all church activities for this same two-week period of time. This includes worship services on Sunday, March 15 and Sunday, March 22. This also includes preschool classes, Bible studies, Sunday School, youth group, music rehearsals, confirmation activities, administrative meetings, gatherings of outside groups, and more. This is a choice that we have made not out of fear, but out of an abundance of caution and deep concern for the well-being of our wider community.
During this time, our housekeeping staff will be working to deep-clean and sanitize our church. Other members of our church staff will continue to be hard at work as well. I’ve asked them to get creative with tasks and projects that can be accomplished remotely — so please check often for emails from our various staff members and church leaders on ways that we can connect in ministry even if we’re not connecting in person. Our staff members will also be working to prepare for the upcoming Holy Week and Easter holidays — I have every intention of us gathering together to celebrate these most important moments of our Christian faith.
To that end, it’s my hope that those of you who are able will continue to support the ministry and mission of Wesley Church through your financial gifts. This is an opportunity to be faithful and generous with what we have! It’s a good time to consider online giving — click for more information, or contact your local bank to inquire about their auto-check options. The work of the church will continue (even without in-person gatherings), and your generous gifts make that work possible.
This Sunday, March 15, at 10:00 AM, Pastor Debbie and I will meet in our sanctuary at Wesley Church. I’ll offer my sermon, and she’ll offer our pastoral prayers, all available to you via livestream. This livestream will be available via our church’s Facebook page, and the recording will later be uploaded to our church website. Please join us remotely to worship God and hear what God is saying to us in this trying time. The gospel is still the gospel, and God is still God. There is still so much hope to be found!
Friends, I can’t tell you how much I wanted to be together with you in worship this Sunday. However, this is a season in which we may all have to sacrifice some of what we want for the benefit of others, for the benefit of all.
Sacrificing for others. Sacrificing for all. That’s part of the very core of our Christian tradition, a tradition rooted in the power of unconditional, sacrificial love. In the midst of this trying season, may you find new opportunities to embody and convey the unconditional, sacrificial love of God made known to us in Christ.