Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
The Covid19 pandemic threatened our community on a variety of levels. Over the past two years many have been sick with the virus, but few have been seriously ill, and to the best of my knowledge, no one from TLC was ever hospitalized as a result of Covid19. I have officiated at 33 funerals in the past two years, but none of those deaths were attributed to Covid19. We were very fortunate, and we are very thankful for the safety precautions that, by in large, kept us safe.
The Covid19 pandemic threatened our community on a variety of levels. The isolation and loneliness caused by the pandemic had an adverse effect on our elderly population and on those who lived alone. Depression, dementia and… other things that I cannot remember…, got worse. Marriages and families were strained by a lockdown and perhaps too much family time. Students and teachers had their lives and routines turned upside down. In person weddings, funerals, holidays, and family celebrations were delayed or cancelled.
For our congregation and staff, the pandemic presented us with a series of twists and turns. Overnight, we had to move to online worship and close our doors on Sunday mornings. For 12 months we produced a worship experience that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. We gathered in the parking lot for caroling and an occasional service. Just after Easter 2021, we opened our sanctuary doors and a worship reunion took place. Our worship attendance was a quarter of what it had been pre-pandemic. We social distanced, there were stuffed animals and puppets in the pews, there was no coffee hour, but soon masks were optional and it looked like the end was in sight. Not so fast, masks were back, and so they have been until tomorrow.
We have tried to recognize that loneliness and depression, disruption and dysfunction, were equal or perhaps greater risks than the virus itself. We have given people the opportunity to “self-select.” Everyone has been encouraged to manage their own pandemic lifestyle and to pick and choose what activities were in their comfort zone. We know that some will continue to worship online, some will continue to wear masks, and some will avoid crowds of any kind.
We respect your self-selection and we will support your journey wherever it may take you. This Sunday some will have masks off and some will have masks on, but together we will continue to be the people of God in this place; we will continue to be a force for good on Whidbey Island and in the world.
**Ukraine Relief Effort**
We have all been heartbroken by the images of suffering, destruction, and death in Ukraine. Our prayers are important, our solidarity with peace loving people across the world is critical. Prayers are mysterious and powerful, but we are called to more than prayer. I thank you for your generous support for the refugee people of Eastern Europe. Your gifts provide food, water, lodging, medical care, and hope to suffering people. The people of Trinity Lutheran Church have already given $20,000 to aid the refugees, and I am quite certain that we will double that gift.
Blessed to be a Blessing. Blessed to be a Blessing but never blessed in isolation. We are called to use our privilege to help our neighbors. I thank you all for following Jesus, and for modeling Christian community.
I am most thankful to be on this journey with you.