The coronavirus plague continues, and we need to adapt our plans to be responsible toward one another and toward our neighbors, while trusting God and getting the Word of the Gospel out. Interestingly, we are getting many more views of our streamed services than we have ever had attendees in our building. It is now clear that we cannot resume gathering for worship at least during April, and most likely beyond. I just moved my vacation in Florida from the end of April to the end of July. Let’s pray there is some semblance of normalcy by then.
There have been many requests by members to receive Holy Communion during this time of social distancing. We have considered several ideas.
We will stream our service as previously at 8 am this Sunday, Palm Sunday. But this will be a service of Holy Communion, and we will consecrate a large quantity of hosts and wine for what is known as “extended distribution.” We will also bless palms.
On Wednesday and Thursday from 9 to 11 am, the palms, consecrated Communion elements in individual plastic containers, and resources for Christian education along with instructions for the various items will be on a table in our vestibule. You are welcome to drop by and pick up palms during those hours (and please not at any other time). If you wish to receive Communion while watching our Maundy Thursday and/or Easter services, you can also take the appropriate number of Communion elements. Please do not take more than you need as a family unless you are delivering them by pre-arrangement to a homebound member (and we suggest you not enter their home). If you do take for a homebound member, there will be a paper on which we ask you to indicate the name, so others don’t also take to them. Please also pick up instructions for the proper handling of these sacred elements!
We ask that only one person at a time enter the vestibule and only during the designated times. If somebody else is inside picking up palms or Communion elements, please wait until they leave. Let the door remain open if you found it that way. Observe social distancing! Please do not go to the church office unless you have a genuine need for something specific. There will be hand sanitizer on the table; please use it before touching anything.
The services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday will be streamed at 7 pm via Facebook and our church web page sttim.com. I will give instructions on when you may Commune at home during the service on Thursday. Good Friday will be a devotional featuring the Stations of the Cross.
We are making a time change on Easter and the following Sundays. The service will be streamed at 9:30 am (and of course can be viewed later). Some of our helpers have had a considerable drive and this gives them a break.
I will share with you these words from our president Will Harmon regarding our decisions about the Easter service:
"At Executive Committee meeting last evening, a significant amount of time was devoted to planning for worship services during Holy Week, Easter, and beyond. The situation here in the mid-state deteriorates day by day as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb which has caused Cumberland and surrounding counties to fall under the Governor’s Stay At Home order.
"You may have read in Pastor’s e-blasts or heard in pre-worship announcements about an idea of having a stay-in-your-car, drive-in type service in our parking lot on Easter Sunday and tuning in on your car radio. Several other churches around our area have been taking that approach. We had the Property and Worship Committees begin some cursory planning to evaluate the feasibility. While it appeared that we had the technical and logistical ability to pull it off, ultimately the consensus of the Executive Committee was to not pursue the idea of an outdoor drive-up service (with communion) in the parking lot. The overall feeling was that in doing so, we (the church) would be inviting and enticing our parishioners to come out of their homes and, in so doing, act in a way that is counter to the intent and spirit of the Stay At Home order that elected officials are asking and expecting of citizens. Additionally, there is always the risk, though perhaps small, that an asymptomatic carrier of the disease could potentially pass it during the giving or receiving of communion elements through open car windows and being in tighter proximity than recommended by the 6-feet social distancing rule.”
We have been told that we are entering a difficult period with regards to this disease. We can continue to follow the basic advice to wash our hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching our face (I struggle with that second one). It can help to wear a mask in public, which doesn’t have to be a medical one (I had some old dust masks from Lowe’s around the house and a member gave us hand-made cloth ones). A mask is a good reminder not to touch our faces, and can keep us from spreading the disease if we don’t know we have it.
But most importantly, please continue to pray at home, to view our various worship services, and to look for ways to help your neighbors in this time.
Thank you to the many people who have sent their regular offerings to St. Timothy. You can mail them to us at 4200 Carlisle Pike, Camp Hill PA 17011, or your financial institution may offer a bill-pay service you can use. Other groups and organizations in the community also are in special need of your support, as you are able to do so.
As I was waiting outside my local hardware store last week, which was honoring “social distancing” by not allowing customers to enter the store but taking orders outside, I said to another person waiting that when this is all over, we will appreciate a lot of little things we took for granted. The world post-coronavirus will be changed in many ways. I pray that these changes will be for the better. We can start preparing now by focusing on the three things that are eternal — faith, hope, and love.
This week we celebrate our Lord’s victory over sin and death, and the promise of a glorious eternal future with our Lord. In that future there will be no social distancing, but only perfect Communion with the Triune God and with one another. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
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