What a difference a month makes. The beginning of Lent happened this year at the end of February. Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite services in the church year. The mourning and grief over our personal sinfulness, the forgiveness of sins, and the reminder of our mortality with the cross of ashes: all move me deeply. I started Lent with a sermon series called “Stories that Shape Us.” We concentrated on the bible stories that were told to us from our Scripture lessons each week. But, not last Sunday. Something greatly troubling has disturbed all of us.
As we approach Palm Sunday, April 5th, the corona virus has shut down vast parts of the United States. In Illinois, a shelter-at-home order is in operation. I stay in regular touch with many other UCC ministers here in the Chicago area. It’s helpful and reassuring to meet with one another on weekly Zoom calls. We have the opportunity to share ideas and resources, and I feel supported and encouraged by our fellow UCC ministers—my colleagues.
We here at St. Luke’s Church have moved to online worship, on Facebook Live. What a wonderful opportunity to reach out to many people who are not ordinarily friends or attendees of St. Luke’s Church. A major part of my calling and position as pastor is to offer God’s Good News to our members, our community and beyond. Online worship services open up such a rich opportunity. We can provide many on Facebook with a warm, intimate worship experience. We also feature traditional worship elements that praise the Lord and honor God’s name.
We spoke about the Samaritan woman at the well several weeks ago. She was one of the first ones to tell of the Messiah, the anointed one of God. The woman at the well spread the Good News from person to person, the old-fashioned way. Our church has the chance to do that, too, augmented by the computer-assisted help of Facebook and other social media.
Just imagine: St. Luke’s first week of online worship on March 22nd had more than 180 views on Facebook Live. The second week on March 29th already has over 100 views (and it’s only Monday, March 30th). What an opportunity to provide a friendly, neighborhood welcome and traditional worship experience for our community and far beyond.
I would like to express my sincere thanks and deep gratitude for the assistance of Grant Robertson, our music assistant and song leader here at St. Luke’s Church. His music knowledge and expert computer know-how are superb. Plus, a new friend, John MacDonald, also assists with technical support. Grant’s stepdad Morgan Porter has been our online Scripture reader. Sherryanne Porter acts as videographer and director of our online worship services. We are learning more and more each week. Pray with us, as we continue to bring St. Luke’s worship services to online audiences in the weeks ahead.
We look forward to Holy Week, when we remember our Lord Jesus and His final days on the earth, His path to the Cross. We will have online worship on both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday—on Facebook Live. I’ll send out paper service bulletins, too. It is not the usual worship experience. However, God’s name will be praised. We will lift up the name of Jesus.
Looking forward to the Resurrection,
Pastor Elizabeth Jones