Why We Do What We Do

St Peters by the Sea Front Dust
We’re back!!   In person worship at St. Peters has returned after over 7 months of its absence.  That is not to regret or second guess in any way the decision to retreat from in person worship, to guard our people from the serious threat of a pandemic that has left our world suffering through historic sickness and death.  If ever we suffered from the delusion that we stand isolated and alone in the world as a community or a country, this pandemic has brought us to our knees in repentance.  But the absence of in person worship does not mean we have not worshiped and it certainly does not mean we have been less faithful to our Lord.  If anything virtual worship has spurred us to greater avenues of faith that we would not have discovered if we had not followed this path.   Through virtual worship we have learned that we can make our homes into a sanctuary, a lesson we need to continue to exercise even when we fully go back to in person worship.   Through the Zoom Fellowship hour we have learned that St. Peters enjoys a more probing and equally shared discovery of each other’s lives, memories and thoughts.   Through daily devotions we have taken devotion to our Lord from a single weekly experience together, to a shared personal daily experience of faith through Bible readings and reflections.   But most importantly we have kept each other safe when the possibility of tragedy could have been devastating.  In my reflection on the numbers, I have discovered that about 1 in every 36 who are infected with this COVID virus in the world and in our country will die from the infection.  That is not to take into consideration that those who are most at risk of dying or serious illness are those who are elderly or with preexisting conditions.  I am certain our congregation has many that fall into that category.  Yes, we have chosen to protect not only our congregation from this pandemic, but we have also chosen to be serving citizens who refuse to be a part of this pandemic’s deadly reach.   We have chosen life and the preservation of life, as a basic Christian value.  We have rejected the temptation to put God to the test by being reckless in our activities.  It is no coincidence that one of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness by Satan was to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple because of Scripture that Satan quoted: “And he will give his angels charge over you, unless you strike your foot against a stone.”  Jesus response to Satan was: “It is also written, that you should not tempt the Lord you God.”  If we had not taken these steps to suspend in-person worship and group meetings at St. Peters we would have been a modern day example of giving in to this Satanic temptation to manipulate God to protect us when we willfully put ourselves in danger with religious intent.   We have learned enough about the virus to safely and with careful calculations, return to in person worship.  We will meet outdoors on the Preschool parking lot.  We will ask everyone to wear masks.  We will limit readings and singing to whispers if they will be encouraged at all.  We will make reservations for our attendance so we can safely distance those in attendance from one another with assigned seating.  All bulletins and communion supplies will be at the chairs assigned without a distribution.   These are first steps back.  We believe they are safe steps.  But what I like best of the plan is that this parking lot worship will be lived streamed and even if you choose not to be there, you can still be present with a computer.   There is much to be thankful for!  We have come a long way and your patience with St. Peters has been tremendous and inspiring.  I am honored being your pastor.   Pastor Rick