April 27, 2020
The very first words of God, as recorded in the Bible, are in Genesis 1:3. Speaking into the empty void of darkness before the creation of the universe, God proclaimed, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Throughout the Scriptures, we read how God brings his light into the darkness of our sinful world. The Word of God illumines our way in this life, as a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Jesus, our divine Savior, the Word made flesh, declared himself to be the “Light of the world” (John 8:12); and the Lord reminds us that we, as his followers, are to be light for the people of the world (Matthew 5:14), giving glory to God by our words and actions.
Are you seeing light at the end of the tunnel, in these dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, closed churches and schools, face masks, working from home, high unemployment numbers, and hand-washing? It’s hard to see very far down the road quite yet. But, perhaps, there’s a glimmer of light ahead.

Our state’s stay-at-home order remains in effect through May 8, but last week the governor outlined a three-phase approach to re-opening. The three phases will each commence sequentially, assuming that certain data-driven criteria are met along the way.

What does all of this mean for our congregation, here at Hope? Based on the limited information we have available currently, it’s possible that our state will enter “Phase 2” near the end of May. In “Phase 2,” houses of worship will be allowed to hold public services, with social distancing and reduced capacity required. I’m praying for that day to arrive sooner, rather than later. More details will be forthcoming from state officials, and we will have to watch for further guidance from Wake County officials, as well. 

It’s important for us to realize now, though, that resuming public worship services at Hope doesn’t mean that we will be returning to normal right away. We are not going to shift in any way when it comes to our Lutheran theology and doctrine. We will have to make a number of logistical and practical accommodations in our normal worship practices, though, in order to help keep our community and our church family safe and healthy.

What will our worship experience be, exactly, on that first day of re-opening? It’s too early to say. We will certainly communicate with the congregation, as plans come together. We can, though, begin to prepare ourselves to be flexible, understanding, tolerant, and adaptable. We’re enduring through these long, dark days of isolation and separation. We’ll get through the re-opening phases, as the family of God, as well.

Is there light ahead? Yes, definitely! It’s the light of God himself, shining in his people, the Church. It’s the reflected light that gleams on the faces of the faithful, as they gather around the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, hearing his brilliant Word proclaimed once again in the worship sanctuary. It’s the divine light of Christ, carried out by the congregation from the sanctuary into the community, as we “proclaim and live the Word and love of Christ.” Let there be light!
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”    1 John 1:7