The Apostle Paul wrote long ago: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:1-2).
As we approach Holy Week and Easter we are eager to celebrate the bedrock of our faith: the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been raised with Christ through faith. We proclaim the good news of salvation in special ways during this holy season.
However, we are living in a very fluid time during this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. State officials are urging people to refrain from gathering, and some have been called to "shelter in place." This order most definitely includes the time frame of Holy Week and Easter (April 5-12), and it will likely extend much longer. As hard as it is to imagine not gathering at our churches during these holy days, it is a necessity to insure protection for the lives of our people.
I implore you to refrain from gathering at your churches to worship with others during Holy Week or Easter. Drive-through options, where people stay in their closed cars and listen to a loudspeaker, is a possibility. Creative online worship options offer more ways to continue services. As long as we are "seeking the things that are above," we are being faithful to our Lord and Savior. Putting people in harm's way by worshiping onsite together, no matter how tempting it may be, is "setting one's affections on things of the earth." (Colossians 3:2) We can worship in meaningful ways without taking unnecessary risks.
Some churches are planning to hold their Easter services on the Sunday after the government announces that it is safe to gather once again in large groups - whenever that may be. What a great idea!
Please keep informed about the latest directives of your state and local governments. Heed their advice, and use this liminal time to be the church in new and creative ways. May our faith and generosity shine like the sun during this time.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson