What new words have become part and parcel of our vocabulary in the last few days. “Self isolation, social distancing and pandemic.” Like many churches, the one I serve First United Methodist Church has all but shut down. Since Monday we have had no outside groups nor church groups meet in the building. We have santized and cleaned top to bottom.
First has had worship “online” before it was a thing. They began televising their 11:00 a.m. worship service 44 years ago. They added online streaming a few years ago as a complement to the medium of television. This service has been a gift to shut ins and others for decades. It is my great privilege to preach that service and to be people’s “other pastor” when they can not attend their own church. Last Sunday, with no congregation in the building, it truly was an honor.
While worship will go live at 11:00 on KAKE TV (Channel 10 in Wichita or the ABC affliatate) or our online streaming, I will be not be there leading worship. I received an-email on Tuesday morning that I may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. The promise was made that as soon as the information was available, I would know whether or not that person had tested positive. As of this moment, I still do not know.
I feel fine, I am in great health, but I do not want to be a carrier to any one young or old. So until next Friday, March 27, or until I know one way or the other, I am in self isolation. I am walking outside for exercise, but not around anyone. I want to be careful of the vulnerable and those most susceptible to this disease.
Yes I am a little anxious, but also, I am leaning into the grace of God and the peace of Christ. I continue to practice all my spiritual disciplines and have added this prayer from Saint Teresa of Avila:
May today there be peace within me. May I trust that I am exactly where I am meant to be. May I not forget that infinite possibilities are born of faith in me and others. May I use the gifts that I have received, and pass on the love that has been given to me. May I be content with myself just the way I am. May I let this knowledge settle in my bones, and may I allow my soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love!
So tomorrow I will be home watching Pastor Rebecca Goltry Mohr preach and the Gathering Band sing and the others lead worship which they all have been called to do. This is my gift to them and to others as we continue to live into this time of pandemic and trust God’s grace and love.