Pastoral Note – May 19

Dear Yates Family,

 

These weeks at the end of May are significant in so many ways, aren’t they? At this time, we celebrate the accomplishments of our high school and college graduates. As they take their next steps, I grieve for them that they can’t enjoy the elation of well-earned public celebration. There are many in our congregation who have crossed that threshold this year. A quick contact to Danny or J. can give you a list of their names and contact information if you would like to congratulate them personally.

 

This coming weekend is also a time to anticipate Memorial Day next Monday. The solemnity of weekend is never lost on me as we remember those who sacrificed their lives in service of the nation. This year, it can also be a time to hold our own community sacrifices in perspective. I hope in your own way you will honor those who have fallen, their families and the communities they left behind in your own special way.

 

I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy as these days sometimes seem to stretch on and on. We are learning more every day about this virus, and also learning what will be called out of us as we make our way through the crisis. I trust you are all taking the necessary precautions, washing hands and doing what needs to be done in order to protect your personal and our community health.

 

As if I needed the reminder, all this became even more personal for my family this week. Jeanell went into isolation across the weekend awaiting the results of a coronavirus test after an exposure at work! Thankfully, the results show no sign of infection. But I am sure that this is a process that we and many others will repeat from time to time until improved treatments and vaccinecoverage can help us all.

 

I want you to know how proud I am of the church these days. This is an exceedingly difficult time with no precedent from which to draw any direct insight. However, I see so many of you working to stay connected, lend your support and offer encouragement as we try to hold together, grow in Christ and to live out the mission of the church. This is a time for commitment, resolve, trust and courage.  You are showing me so much of that, and I thank God for it.

 

As our state and nation take tentative steps to reopen and resume some familiar patterns, Yates must also ask how we might resume some sort of gathered life together. You probably understand that that coming together is both my deep desire and deep concern. I am so eager for us to return to “church as usual,“ but we all know that is not possible, given the vulnerabilities among many in our congregation. As we learn new ways of doing some things, using a broader range of resources, I’m not sure returning to exactly the way things had been is even preferable.

 

The current state of things cannot remain in place forever, though. This week, our deacon chairperson and I are forming up an advisory group of representative church members to discern the best ways we can begin to resume the ministries, engage the mission and even convene modest gatherings of the Yates fellowship. I have no particular timeline I can offer today, because there are so many external variables at work. I do want you to know this week that it is a high priority of our leadership to remain in step with the best medical information and the general movements in our community. We are actively pursing that way forward.

 

Finally, I want to encourage you today with God’s Word.  I want you to know of my personal care, my prayers and love. As you go through your day, wondering what might come next, consider how you can find ways to put these comforting, challenging words to work as you do: “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:12-14)

 

We’re in this together – and together we will see it through.

 

Grace and Peace,

Christopher

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