“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”” -John 20:21-22
Pentecost is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. It is the day the Holy Spirit took control and empowered ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It is the day the church grew from dozens of believers to thousands! Acts 2 tells the story of Pentecost and we will read it in several languages in our online worship this Sunday. I love Pentecost because it reminds me that God calls everyone to spread the wonderful news of Jesus Christ. Before leaving them, Jesus told the disciples, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you… Receive the Holy Spirit.” He started with the blessing of “peace”. “Shalom”, translated into English as “peace” means far more than the absence of war. It is a blessing of wholeness and comfort, that peaceful, easy feeling… so the song goes. It is this blessing of “peace” that I think we all long for during these difficult and confusing days; AND, the reminder that we are not alone, Jesus also gave his disciples the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
This time of online-only worship has been a stretch for all of us! We have grown in our knowledge and ability to produce a meaningful worship experience, but things often go awry and this past Sunday was one of those times. If you had difficulty participating, we apologize. New computers and various problems have hopefully been addressed and we will have a more seamless experience going forward. Thank you, to Rev. Robert Schmidtt for preaching to record the sermon for our worship service, twice!
Even with the difficulties of online-only worship and attempting to find community during social distancing days, I have seen some beautiful things. Our Facebook Live Bible Study on Wednesdays reaches farther than we ever had before. We have people from all over the country participating in studying God’s word and for that, I am thankful! Our online worship has continued to serve not only our church congregation, but farther beyond our community limits. Our children’s ministry resources have reached many other churches in our Presbytery as well and serve to connect us all in the love and work of the larger church.
We miss you all, and hope to be together in worship in person again soon. We strive to be faithful to you and to God as we provide worship and ministry resources in these difficult days. We are all eager to be together in worship at the church building. Our Staff, our Session, and our Presbytery leadership are all in constant prayer and planning to find the best way forward and the best timing for resuming in-person worship that is safe and faithful to protecting our vulnerable people. If the current time frame holds, we hope to provide limited access (under 50 persons) in a couple of places around our facility by June 28. This may be delayed if the Presbytery recommends waiting. We hope to be back fully to in-person worship (while following safe social distancing practices and requiring masks) by July 19. Once again, this may be delayed if our Session and Presbytery recommend waiting further.
For now, we continue to reach out online with worship to help you Experience God, Find Community and Serve the World! For Pentecost, this Sunday, we invited Meadow Springs Presbyterian Church, Korean Presbyterian Church of Central Washington, and Iglesia Vida Abundante de Cristo to participate with us in a special worship service. Please join us online this week!
Holy Spirit, come and dwell among us. Give us your presence and your power. Shake the church into action and spread your love to the places you are sending us! Amen.