Update from Rev. Chris Henry - March 12, 2021
Dear Second Family,
Today marks one year since that Thursday afternoon when, in the midst of a fury of activity and important decisions, I invited our staff to gather for a time of silent reflection, Scripture reading, and prayer. I did not anticipate a large crowd—it was a last-minute request in the busy season of Lent—and yet, I arrived to a full chapel. The candles were lit. There was music coming from the piano. And I was moved then, as I am now, by this congregation’s capacity to meet each moment in our shared story—no matter how challenging—with a faithful posture of prayer and worship.
For the last year, you have answered God’s call to carry that posture of worship into the world. You have been the people of God deployed on a mission. There are stories to tell of those across the street, and around the country, who have been transformed by Jesus Christ because of the welcome they experienced in online worship. There are stories to tell of you responding to the Spirit’s prompting in worship with bold acts of faith and sweeping generosity. There are stories to tell of peace passed in unconventional and beautiful ways that wove us together despite the distance.
There are stories to tell because for one year, with creativity and deep conviction, you have been holding faith, together.
Those stories of perseverance, hope, and unity are being woven into the new story God is writing in our midst. A story that always begins in worship. That is the update I want to offer you today. Ever committed to our call to follow Jesus Christ into the future, we faithfully journey through the season of Lent, look ahead to Holy Week and, then, the opportunity for in-person Sunday worship beginning in mid-April.
*We will continue our journey to the cross, and the joy of Easter morning, with in-person and online opportunities for worship during Holy Week. In addition to Sunday morning worship online, there will be a Palm Sunday Procession at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 28 on our church campus, led by Children and Family Ministries and our beloved donkey, Enright. On Maundy Thursday, April 1, we will offer sacred space for private worship and reflection in the Sanctuary and the prayer labyrinth from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., followed by the sacrament of communion, shared from our homes, at 7:30 p.m. On Good Friday, we will offer seven meditations on the last words of Christ and powerful musical reflections on the church website throughout the afternoon. On Easter, April 4, we will welcome the promise of new life with an in-person Easter sunrise service, gathering for worship and celebration of communion in the north parking lot at 7:30 a.m. Our 11:00 a.m. Easter morning worship, with proclamation of the word and the glorious music of this festival day, will remain online so all can worship together as one unified community of faith celebrating the joy of resurrection.
*Beginning Sunday, April 18 we are planning for in-person worship at 11:00 a.m. As we have held faith together throughout the last year, we have done so as one unified community worshiping as one body. We will hold fast to this continued sense of togetherness as we return to offering an in-person worship option. Our return to in-person worship on April 18 is a step forward on a continuing journey toward that day when we will all be together in more normal ways. Online registration, masks, and social distancing will be required for in-person worship. There will be important guidelines to be followed and our hospitality team will be ready to greet, guide, and carefully direct you to your designated seats. While many of these practices will be familiar to you, we will share all details, how-tos, helpful Q&As, and more over the coming weeks to ensure all who wish to participate are equipped and included. At this time, we do not plan to offer childcare or Sunday School for in-person worship.
*Until April 18, worship will remain online only. We will continue our 11:00 a.m. online worship broadcast indefinitely. That will always be available to you.
God has woven our stories together throughout the last year into a tapestry of faithfulness that bears witness to the hope of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. In this season of Lent, I am giving thanks for the ways this congregation has followed Christ throughout the last year with fortitude, patience, and unflappable hope. In Wednesday evening's Service of Lament and Hope, we named the things we have lost as well as the ways we have encountered God’s grace and love through the trials of the last year. There will, no doubt, be opportunities ahead to lift those stories up, trace the faithfulness of God, and honor the journey we have walked together.
We will also prepare for this next leg of the journey with hope, faith, and prayer. We will take each step, as we have in the past, with trust that any step taken with our collective health in mind will move us closer to that day when we can gather in more normal ways. We will be in close communication about the events and details leading up to the dates above. We will continue to hold faith, together with discerning hearts and hopeful spirits.
As we look ahead to the new story God is writing, I’m reminded of the sturdy words of the Apostle Paul, which send us from worship each week, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Friends, hope abounds. God has sustained us thus far and God is calling us forward.
I am deeply thankful for your love, endurance, and faith. I give thanks to God that we are taking this journey together.
Much more to follow.
With peace and hope,
A welcoming community of faith where Jesus Christ transforms lives