Reaching out

March 18 2020

Dear friends,

When I awoke last night at 3 am, more of the enormity of what it means to be “socially distanced” in the midst of this pandemic sank into my bones. It has only been two days since Mill Woods United decided to suspend in-person gatherings and activities, and I miss you already!

I plan to publish a blog entry, of which this is the first, every day and to make them accessible on the church website. I hope these communications will help us to cope, and perhaps even thrive, in the midst of social isolation. I won’t send all of these entries via the “What’s the Buzz” e-mail list as I have done with this one. Some, perhaps, but not all. You can always find them on the church website at the following links:

All of us are challenged to find good ways to stay in touch with our church family, our other families, and the wider community as we “shelter in place” at home. Mill Woods United is a focal point for our caring and compassion. We want to continue to “be together in love” even as we are physically separate. We want to remain a light to the neighbourhood. Let us figure out how to do this together.

My night-time epiphany included a deeper awareness of the privileges and responsibilities of being a minister. What a blessing it has been to be privy to the joys and concerns, the troubles, and the soul-expanding triumphs of so many of you for more than six years now. Whenever we are able to be physically together again, I can only imagine the joy I will feel.

It would be wonderful if our time of social distancing were over by Easter Sunday, which this year falls on April 12th. But it seems almost certain that this will not be the case.

In that regard, yesterday I was in a “Zoom” meeting with 40 other ministers from the Northern Spirit Region of the United Church of Canada (and which felt to me like a cool drink on a hot day. BTW, Zoom is a wonderful online collaboration tool involving audio, video, chat, and moderation. Many of us who have not become familiar with it may well do so in the near future.)

The subject of Easter came up, and Rev. Larry Wright of Spirit West United Church said something I loved. He noted that Easter leaps about the calendar every spring depending on the phases of the moon, and that resurrection can be celebrated at any moment. So, perhaps our churches will celebrate Easter whenever a critical mass of us are able to gather again. What do you think?

You are probably aware that not everyone active with MWUC has access to a computer, a smartphone, email, or the Internet. I am phoning these people to let them know about the suspension of our gatherings and activities and asking if they want Liliana to mail them information from WTB or Sunday reflections. In general, the more we can contact one another by phone, text, email, Zoom, or other means the better. Our emotional and spiritual health depend on it.

Starting this Sunday, we will be presenting an online-only spiritual gathering. At least for now, this will be via Facebook Live; and for those who are not using Facebook, a video of these short gatherings will also be accessible on the website.

I hope that many of you will be able to watch the short, live service from home this Sunday morning starting at 10:30 am.

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on how we can best communicate, please be in touch.

May our prayers of concern continue to be focused on those who are sick, those who are caring for them, the researchers who are searching for treatments, vaccines, and better understandings of the disease, those suffering from loss of income and economic security, and all those trying to lead this city, country, and world through a challenging time.

Lenten blessings,

Ian

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