Calvary’s COVID-19/Coronavirus Response
Eblast for Friday, April 3, 2020
Hello Calvary family,
As we live in this uncertain and somber season of what it means to be a people enduring a pandemic, we continue to be together, while apart. Know that I am picturing your faces and smiles and quirks as I write this letter. Thank you for your emails, calls, and notes of love and support for our staff. We feel your love! And we return that love in equal measure.
As the number of people who are suffering and dying around the world, in our own country, and here in Colorado rises, may our daily prayers of lament and grief join with the cries and tears of those who are suffering - whether from COVID-19 or any illness or trial. As one of our beloved hymns The Servant Song says, “I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.” This is true not just for our Calvary community, but for our worldwide community. As people of faith, we see the world through the lens of how we “love our neighbor” and loving our neighbor also means grieving with our neighbor too - and celebrating as well.
I do have some good news of celebration to share with you. On Wednesday, for the first time in 15 days, our Director of Music David Farwig, did not have a fever. He is still coughing and suffering from a bad headache, but the relief from the fever is giving David hope that he might be in his last week of symptoms of COVID-19. Please continue to pray for David and for his husband Greg.
Another celebration for our church family: the first half of Pastor Morgan’s parental leave is complete, which means we’ll be seeing her “virtually” in our worship services and she’ll begin to work from home (as all staff are doing now). As she eases back into our life together, I know it will be good for all of us to hear her “voice” and to be able to celebrate with Morgan and Ian the gift that Julian is in their lives.
In addition, we have celebrated two staff anniversaries in the last few weeks: Lori Grohskopf - 4 years (March 21) and Alice Horner-Nelson - 2 years (April 1). I am so grateful for the ministry they provide our congregation and for their personal friendship too. Calvary would not be the place it is today without both of their gifts - and we are lucky to have them! This has become especially evident as we’ve navigated the last few weeks together; their encouragement, wisdom, creativity, and flexibility have been invaluable. I hope you’ll join me in dropping them a note of appreciation and thanks.
Well Calvary, we are now headed into Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ life, a journey where time seems suspended and the days a bit longer and a bit darker. As we journey with Jesus through this week of unknowns, uncertainty, and suffering, may we strive to “stay awake” with him on his journey - remembering that it led to the cross, yes, but beyond it…to the empty tomb.
A colleague of mine shared with me a social media post that read, “This is the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented.” His words match my sentiments exactly:
“For many people, Lent is not their favorite season of the year, given its unyielding focus on mortality, repentance, and the surrender of the ego. But this Lent seems particularly harsh. Weeks ago, none of us could have imagined that we would be giving up so much for Lent. All of us have given up our familiar routines, our social freedoms, our physical connections, our communal life. But many have given up so much more, including their jobs, their health, their financial security, and their peace of mind.
I know that this season is wearing on you. The uncompromising isolation; the chaos of managing kids and online education while working from home; the challenges of staying safe; the concern for loved ones near and far. The news only amplifies our fears and anxieties. We’re all doing our best to get through this, but if it helps at all, remember that the season of Lent is an invitation to be intentional about leaning into our reality, feeling the ache and awe of the world, and calling on God’s grace and mercy. Practice grace and patience with yourself. Find ways every day to be kind to the people around you. Reframe how you do community. Make space for God.”
And as you journey through this Holy Week, I offer to you a series of spiritual practices from our friends Joyce and David Reed, who are the Global Coordinators for Spiritual Care for all of our International Ministries Global Servants (missionaries), as they encourage us all to stay centered with God, with others, and with yourself:
• Community - Connect with 1 person each day via phone/text/video chat
• Gratitude - Begin or end each day by writing down 3 things you're thankful for
• Awareness - Spend time at a window, on a porch, or in your backyard noticing 5 signs of life around you
• Prayer/Silence - Practice 7 minutes of quiet space for prayer or silence
And, of course, I encourage you to participate in our daily Holy Week offerings, whether that be a worship service or a devotional. Watch for an email in your inbox each day from April 5-April 12 as we journey with Jesus to the cross, watch and wait during Holy Saturday, and celebrate the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday. It will be a Holy Week like no other, but then again, it always is…
With you on the journey,
I hope you are having a meaningful Lenten season so far, finding moments to “pause” and engage in Sabbath rest and renewal. I hope you’ll join us for our first Lenten Sabbath Supper this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Youth Lounge as we gather for a time of food, fellowship, fun, and reflection on a question related to Sabbath practice. Please RSVP to Pastor Alice if you are planning to attend so we prepare enough soup and salad. You do not have to have engaged with our Sabbath curriculum to attend; in fact, if you have yet to engage with our congregation-wide emphasis on Sabbath – Lent is a great time to begin!
We’ve been getting a few questions about the growing concern of the transmission of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as recommendations for how to prevent or minimize the risk of infection and transmission. At Calvary, we take these concerns seriously and want to be responsible in how we practice faith and community together.
Based on the recommendations of infectious disease experts from UC Health and the CDC this week, we will be using individually wrapped communion elements at Common Table, Common Life on March 15 and for the communion elements we offer each week at the back of the sanctuary in our 10:30 a.m. worship services in March. We will evaluate closer to April 5 as to how we will partake of communion on that Sunday. While the science is unclear as to whether any infectious disease has been or might be spread through the method of “intinction” (dipping bread into a common cup), it seems reasonable and responsible at this time to take this precaution in an effort to minimize risk.
It is also recommended that we temporarily forego our customary “greeting” ritual, which sometimes includes handshaking at the beginning of our services. Some congregations have temporarily replaced the “handshake” with an “elbow bump,” so you can give that a try for the next few weeks or simply cross your arms over your chest during the Time of Greeting if you do not wish to be touched at all.
Of course, if you are feeling under the weather, or if you’re at higher risk for serious illness as a result of flu or other infectious disease, please take advantage of our live-streaming service on Sunday morning. I also hope that, whenever you are unable to be physically present at Calvary for worship, you’ll use our online giving options to ensure that the ministries of Calvary continue to thrive, even in your absence.
We have also placed new signs in the restrooms encouraging you to wash your hands for 20-30 seconds (with fun suggestions of what songs you can hum to yourself as you wash!)
Final reminder: don’t forget to move your clock forward an hour this Sunday for the start of Daylight Saving Time. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday – either at our 10:30 a.m. service or as we celebrate our one-year birthday of The Gathering at 6:30 p.m. – and greeting you with an elbow bump in the name of Christ!
~Pastor Anne Read More…
The first story Luke tells in his gospel is Zechariah’s story. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s inability to conceive in their old age reminds us of the stories of many of Israel’s patriarchs and matriarchs. Zechariah’s song is the longest of several songs in the birth narrative of Jesus, and it overflows with language from Israel’s Scriptures. The connection is loud and clear. The story we are now reading is not a new story; it is a continuation of the story of God’s love and faithfulness for generations.
If this is true, then what’s different about the story this time around? What is the proclamation and promise that the birth of John brings?
After centuries of prophets foretelling the Messiah, John is the closest prophet we have to Jesus himself, the one we Christians believe is the Messiah. What can we learn from John about our role of “paving the way” for Jesus? If there was a prophet so close to Jesus in his day and age (even living at the same time as Jesus), what does that tell us about the role of prophets in our faith today? If John came before Jesus, who is coming after? Read More…
Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4, 8-13 (NRSV)
On this third Sunday of Advent, we meet Cyrus, the king of Persia. He arrives in Babylon with a very different concept of empire; he gives great freedom to his vassals. His policies were welcomed by the exiled Judeans, who, according to the first part of Ezra, were eager to return home, to restore their community, and to rebuild.
And – believe it or not - Cyrus makes the proclamation they’ve all been waiting for! He tells them to go home (with great blessings) and to rebuild; this is something refugees don’t even dare to dream about! Has Christmas come early? Is this too good to be true? Well, no – it’s not too good to be true. It’s real. But with reality comes complexity, of course.
As the people return home and begin to rebuild the Temple it is an emotional scene. It’s a joyous festival of celebration, quite fitting on this Sunday of JOY in Advent. And yet, along with the people who are rejoicing at what has come to pass, there are people who are mourning too – those who remember and grieve what was lost. It is a very human moment that we can relate too. Often we simplify joy as happiness and celebration, but it can be an ambiguous emotion at times – holding both hope and grief in the same moment.
Join us on Sunday as explore the complex emotions of what it means to be a people of Joy during Advent; we’ll honor the pain of what has been lost in the past year even as we await the fulfillment of the Messiah with Joy and Hope. Read More…
This is all about learning to begin conversations with people about faith and/or Calvary in ways that are non-threatening and inviting. Through initiating such conversations and opportunities we build relationships and involvement.
The second word in our 2018 INVITE Challenge is VOICE. This is all about speaking out loud to others how you see God working in your life or the world and telling people what you find meaningful about Calvary. It can be intimidating or uncomfortable to talk to others about faith or church, but there are easy ways to working "God" and "church" into your everyday interactions with folks. Read More…
The second word in our 2018 INVITE Challenge (see below) is NOTICE. When we are in our routines of attending the classes and ministries with which we naturally connect, sometimes we do not notice all of the other opportunities for ministry that are all around us. Read More…