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A Letter from Pastor Anita: Spring!

Sunday, July 5th felt like the first day of Spring! Yes, it was hot and humid that day. By the calendar’s measuring, we were several weeks into our Summer season. My father used to say: “Summer is over after the 4th of July.” So the 5th of July should be seen as anything but spring-like. But July 5th still felt like the first day of Spring this year as we re-opened our church building for worship. Picture a crocus breaking out of the ground with vibrant color. Watching people get out of their cars and enter the building again was a beautiful sight! Standing to preach with people in the pews, hearing them sing and respond in worship, watching them greet one another during the Passing of the Peace literally brought tears to my eyes. What a joy to be together!

Over the past four months, being ‘together’ has taken on new meaning. Before, when I said, “hope to see you on Sunday,” I meant seeing you sitting in a pew in the sanctuary. Now, even as we re-open our sanctuary for in person worship, many of us continue to ‘see’ online. We worship together on Facebook and the Website and even through Roku. We gather during the week on Facebook to pray together. Our kids will gather across the country to enjoy the fun of the Rocky Railway Vacation Bible School with links on our website. Our Bible studies and ministry teams gather in person with some Zooming into the conversation from their homes. Each of us must make wise decisions about how to stay safe and well. In this new COVID reality, we are finding creative ways to be together, even as we are apart.

Just four months ago, most of us could not imagine this new way of being together. We have become a hybrid congregation- in person and online, but all of us #TogetherInChrist (the title of the summer sermon series.) Our unity, our community, our partnership comes not from bonds formed over coffee in Fellowship Hall, but through the calling of Jesus Christ on our hearts. Since we are His, we belong to each other, called to share this journey even from a distance. No barrier should be allowed to stand in the way of the unity we find in Jesus Christ. In St. Paul’s day, even with the challenge of travel in the ancient world, distance was the least of the barriers that threatened the unity of the early church. In one letter after the other, St. Paul wrote about the barriers of race and culture. The Jews refused to share the same table with the Gentiles. They insisted on maintaining the purity of the people by keeping the Gentiles outside their fellowship. The division was tearing the early church apart even before they had a chance to fully form. St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all the through all and in all.” Eph 4:3-5
Today, the pandemic has forced us to find new ways to be together across distance. But that struggle is nothing compared to the challenge of bridging the gap that exists in our human relationships. Whether divided by prejudice or anger, by economics or politics, we are called to a unity that supersedes our particularities. The unity that Paul describes is not a suggestion but the call of God.

Today, that call challenges me to contact the person with whom I have disagreement. Tomorrow that call will find me at the grocery store buying dry goods for hungry families in Bucks county. By Thursday, God’s call will have me doing some soul searching about my own biases that judge people before they even open their mouths. Friday, Saturday, Sunday… well, I am sure that God will have more work to do on my heart as He challenges me to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.” My first day of Spring experience on July 5th reminds me of the joy of being #TogetherInChrist. May we be a people through whom God brings that unity into reality today!

With you on the journey,
Anita
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