Returning to Worship

I am so excited right now! As I write this column, we are making final arrangements to return to in-person worship.

Our Church Council and staff did not take this decision lightly. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that we will be providing the safest environment possible to everyone who will attend. So, we all owe them a deep expression of thanks for their effort. Thank you!

Before we go further, we cannot forget the people who improvised, adjusted, and extended themselves during this pandemic. I am grateful to Toni Knutson for her leadership and support, Mike Suchecki for working hours each week to produce our worship videos, to Rueck Ruecktenwald for his talents at the organ,  Mary Ann Proffitt for her Children’s Moments and Sunday school videos and home activities, all of our liturgists, readers, and all those who passed the Peace of Christ, Joel Matthys, who created choir videos, and to Julia Brooks, and all of our singers and musicians recording themselves and sharing it with us. Each of you added to our worship. I am also grateful to Brigette Unger who kept the office functioning remotely. Each of you have added to our common life, thank you!

Now, to address in-person worship going forward, I need to take another step backward. That is to say, “we are a congregation in the Reformed tradition.” The Protestant reformers believed that to be a reformed church, we need to be always reforming. Yes, the reformation began in Germany, but the church continued to reform as it emigrated to the United States and this reformation continues to this day. Don’t think so? We don’t speak and sing in German any longer. The church is a living organism that evolves as it faces new challenges and opportunities in each successive generation.

In mid-March we were faced with a decision, keep doing worship the way we’ve done it for years or adapt to the challenges of the day. We chose to reform our worship to reach those we could electronically. It wasn’t perfect and didn’t include everyone, but it provided a worship experience for many of us. In response to that first online sermon, Damian began offering Music with Damian where he played his saxophone for an hour each evening to help keep us connected. Others of us gathered on most Tuesdays and Thursdays for Prayer Time. There were several drive-ups at the church where we supported the Waukesha Food Pantry and the Angel’s Baby Closet at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Two different small group studies were begun, and Sunday school went virtual. In these and other ways, we remained the church. These are just the highlights. There is more. Thank you all for your flexibility, innovation, and strength to reform.

As we return to our building, we will continue to adapt as we worship at two different times, without any singing, or time for casual conversation afterword. It won’t be back to what was before. It will feel different and change is hard. And we have had so much change. There may be favorite parts that we will miss. We may not be able to sit in our favorite seat. Yet, God calls us forward. We will experience a new expression of worship. Like when we went online, there will be much that will be familiar. And there may be opportunities to discover new favorites.

There are two constants that I want us all to remember. First, we are all still part of one congregation, one local expression of the Body of Christ on earth. Secondly, God is at work in us and through us.

In the end, isn’t that what matters most?

Together, we live the greatest commandment, to love God with our whole heart, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Thanks be to God.