And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. - Jeremiah 3:15
March 2020 changed so very much. An unknown virus was threatening. It was a time of concern, fear, isolation, and uncertainty. While many churches simply shut down, our RCPC staff did not miss a beat. They could have said, “We need a minute,” as their families and friends were facing drastic changes as well. But they didn’t. The very first Sunday after the world seemed to stop, our shepherds were present for their flock.
Our congregation was able to view and be part of a “regular” church service with our leaders in their usual places at the lectern, pulpit, and organ. We were invited to participate in prayer, singing, and responsive readings from our homes. For them, it must have been so strange to be reading, preaching, playing, and singing before an empty sanctuary, yet they continued to share scripture and encouragement giving us the steadiness of routine and the message that all things had not changed. For us, it was reassuring. We had the familiarity and comfort of our church home and a connection with our church family even while apart from each other.
And that leadership has evolved and continued for two years now. Our church family has been offered creative opportunities to continue worship and fellowship even with the many challenges that COVID has presented. We have all been invited to take up our shepherds’ crooks and be part of unifying our church community and creating tangible ways to stay in relationship with each other. A talented AV team has made it possible for many church activities to be available to all of us. Meals have been shared outdoors. Beautiful music selections have given us joy and peace. We have received Lenten and Advent Kits to enrich our worship experiences at home. Children have learned about God’s world together on hikes. Small groups have joined in study through Zoom and in the chilly parking lot. Communion was offered as we partook of the “same” loaves of bread. We have had the chance to pray for our neighbors. We have had the opportunity for generosity by dropping off needed items for area ministries. In these ways and more, we continue to be a thriving congregation.
We can all be thankful God has given us a dedicated staff who have embraced the role of shepherd and have reminded us of God’s steadfast love even amidst great uncertainty.