With the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) we are in a time of uncertainty unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. In times like these we seek comfort and good news. And a lot of us find those things in worship. “It is a place we can find solace and reassurance in the midst of our fears.” (ELCA)
So, how can we gather for worship safely? Would it surprise you to know that Martin Luther had a plan for that? In response to the plague of 1527, Luther wrote, “God has created medicines and has provided us with intelligence to guard and take care of the body. … Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence.” At Good Shepherd we’re following his advice, along with more specific and up-to-date recommendations from the ELCA and the Centers for Disease Control. Our goal is to continue to gather for worship, making some small changes that will help keep us healthy and alleviate some anxiety.
Greeters When you enter Good Shepherd, you are usually greeted with a warm handshake. For the time being, greeters will be encouraged to greet you without physical contact – a wave, a bow, or just a warm smile.
Passing of the peace When we pass the peace we are recognizing the presence of Christ in each other. We generally do this with handshakes and hugs. For now, we encourage you to use a non-contact approach. Sign language, prayer hands and a bow, a salute, jazz hands – whatever feels right for you.
Holy Communion Communion servers are being instructed to wash their hands thoroughly before serving communion, as well as use hand sanitizer. If you do not feel comfortable receiving communion at this time, you can simply ask for a blessing. Communion servers are also being asked to give blessings without touching. Hand sanitizer is located in the front pews on either side of the center aisle. Feel free to help yourself on the way to and from communion.
Offering To reduce the amount of touching and sharing of germs, we will not be passing the offering plates. You will be able to place your offering in the plates near the doors as you leave the sanctuary. (You can also choose to give electronically through GivePlus – instructions are in the pews.) We will have a few moments of music and meditation during the time the offering plates are usually passed.
- If you’re concerned about our re-usable bulletins, we invite you to use the hymnals.
- You might notice the stuffed animals have been removed from the sanctuary. Since it’s very tempting to touch and love them, we’ve gathered them up and they’re spending time in the Nurse’s office. They’ll be sent out to spread love, not germs, at a later date.
- The nursery staff will continue to make sure all toys are thoroughly cleaned after use.
How can you help? Bishop Eaton (and the CDC) offer these simple steps: Wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, wear a mask if you have symptoms, consult your medical provider.
And last but not least, pray. Keep those afflicted with COVID-19, as well as those who are vulnerable, and their families and caregivers in your prayers, along with scientists, healthcare workers and leaders. It might also help to remember these words from Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
Here’s an excellent (and funny) instructional video on the use of hand sanitizer.