Do you remember the scene in Joshua Chapter 3 as the twelve tribes cross over the River Jordan into the promised land?
When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still.Joshua 3:14-16
This Sunday had that magical feeling. We cautiously moved our outdoor traditional worship back inside the building. It felt literally like we were dipping our feet into the water to see what would happen. I can’t claim the parting of the waters but I can claim this renewed sense of writing a new chapter in the book of “Living with COVID.”
Roughly 100 people gathered in the Traditional Worship Center to worship God. God was fully present to be worshipped. Here is what we did to minimize the risks associated with being inside the building:
First, we are thankful that everyone took seriously their responsibility to stay home if they did not feel well. Thank you! I know of a couple of people who choose to stay home (most likely because of seasonal allergies) as an act of compassion for others. Again, THANK YOU!
Second, I am so very grateful that everyone wore their masks while on campus. The cool weather helped in this regard. But honestly, once again, your caring for each other made it safer for all. THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!
It was sooooooooo good to enter into the sanctuary and speak “briefly” to other households (with masks while honoring social distancing.) We were able to catch up and reconnect in ways that just can’t be replaced with a text or phone call. But I was so very appreciative that we did not have large gatherings of people get together inside the building. Everyone was respectful of each other’s health and well being. THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!!
The service itself felt wonderful to me. Mike Strain and Ann Manuel along with two soloists on the platform (Jan Johnson and Denver Oates) brought live worship music back into the center of my soul. And even though I could not sing with them, I found myself soaring with them. I noticed I was grinning uncontrollably under my mask. Rather than music guiding our singing, we used music to guide us into praying. The responsive prayers of the people allowed this to truly be an interactive special moment in worship.
The 45-minute worship service followed by the ushers dismissing by rows during an extended musical postlude felt a little different but was necessary to avoid the large accumulation of people in close proximity at the exits leaving the building.
I know we will try different things at different times in different ways but we have now dipped our feet into the water. I must admit it felt really good.
We continue to ask people to use our online “Save Your Seat” process. This will especially become critical when we add reservations for your children in the nursery and Kids Min beginning November 1.
When you click the “Register” button in the signup process, there is a drop-down box with a default setting of 1 that will allow you to save up to 6 seats under your name. You can also call Christine Lewis at 770-487-6499 and ask her to save your seats for you. Make certain to call Christine no later than Thursday at 12:00 PM if you are going to go through her. The online “save your seat” system is live up to Saturday night for any given Sunday.
The chairs in the worship space have been rearranged to promote social distancing seating. Our current capacity in the Traditional Worship center is 180 people. So if you wish to dip your feet in the water too, we have room to grow.
For those seeking a Contemporary Worship experience, please join us outdoors outside of the Foundry this Friday (October 23) at 7:00 PM. Bring your mask and lawn chairs. We will still be socially distancing between households.
Our plan is to offer one more Sunday (October 25) with just the 9:30 AM Traditional worship and then use November 1 as our transition back into both worship spaces – 9:30 AM Traditional Worship in the Traditional Worship Center – 11:00 AM Contemporary Worship in the Contemporary Worship Center. And as always, we will be maintaining our excellent online worship experience at 10:15 AM.