Author Frederick Buechner says, “You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.” The book of Genesis puts it even more simply as God says, “It is not good for the human to be alone.” As access to vaccines becomes widespread, we seem to be in a new phase of the pandemic. While things may be not “normal” or “over,” we can celebrate that we are increasingly able to return to gathering as a community with necessary precautions. 
One thing that God has certainly taught me over the last year is the value of our faith community. Prior to this, I’m not sure I could fully understand or appreciate how important it is that we gathered together. I’ve long believed that we are better together. I’ve long believed that faith, scripture, the will of God, and the movement of the Holy Spirit are best interpreted as a community. If we are left alone we become too self-serving and we imagine God in our own image. However, in the last year it has felt that something is missing as we have not been able to gather in the same space. As weekly updates on life from many of you turned into biannual updates, something was missing. A part of me seemed to be gone. Perhaps it is as Buechner suggests, that I was not able to be fully human without all of us functioning as a community. Certainly God was right, it was not good. 
I’m grateful for this lesson. I’m grateful for the ways that we did our best to stick together. I’m so grateful for the ways that Vinje continued to worship and serve during a time of exile. Thank you for doing your part to keep us focused on the ministry God has called each of us to. Thank you for leading worship with phone recordings of prayers. Thank you for serving others. Thank you for sharing your gifts. These last many months have most obviously not been a perfect time, nor anything we would desire to repeat, but it was a time in which God moved among us. 
In the months ahead we will return to in-person community. We are planning worship services, fellowship gatherings, fun events, small group studies, and other events for our coming future. When you feel comfortable to be a part of these in person, there will be many ready to welcome you back. Keep your eyes and ears open for the many details to come (some can even be found in this newsletter), and feel free to reach out to me or other members of the staff with new ideas and suggestions. This can be a time of new beginnings, and there is much to be excited for in the days ahead as God continues to teach us what it means to be human together.

-Pastor Justin