Just a month ago I was writing you looking forward to a full and vibrant Holy Week celebration. We were busy preparing for worship which would have been very similar to what we have experienced in the past. Now, we are uncertain when we will be able to gather in one place to worship next. These are times unlike any I have ever seen or imagined.
I imagine many of you are concerned about the future. What will this mean for our church, our finances, our community, our family? The list goes on and on. I share many of those same concerns. And, right now I do not have a good answer, or a clear picture, of what the future will hold. It is very possible that this will be a defining moment in not only our lives as individuals, but as a community, a country, and a church. What I am certain of is this: God will be with us throughout whatever is next.
For several reasons, I’ve temporarily moved my “office” into the parlor, so I am surrounded by a great deal of our history as a community of faith. I have pictures of the church buildings, J.P. Callaway, F.M. Hooten, and the charter members encouraging me as we journey through these uncharted waters. I am encouraged to continue to proclaim the Good News by the original pulpit for our congregation. This pulpit was a gift to us from the Corinth Christian Church from which many of our charter members came.
One thing which keeps coming to mind is that we, Marshfield Christian Church, have survived hard times before. We have weathered the storm and held fast to the one who calms the waves and stills the terrifying wind. In 1894 the church nearly failed and ceased visible ministry for seven years. But, 119 year ago, the church was reorganized. If we could survive that seven years of uncertainty, we can certainly hold out for a few more weeks or even months.
Then came the fateful day of January 26, 1936. Early on a Sunday morning, in zero-degree weather, a fire started in the church furnace. The fire gutted the interior of the building. The stained windows were lost, the floors had to be replaced, and the seats in the church were extensively damaged. The repairs were made almost immediately, but with the passage of time the additions and improvements left no trace of the tragedy that Sunday morning.
While there are many questions about what things will look like in the future, there are some things which are certain, God’s faithfulness and our resilience as a community of faith. There is at least one more thing of which I am certain, whenever we are able to gather back at the church building and worship, that day will be a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Whatever the day on the calendar, it will be Easter for us. We will gather together and remember the empty tomb and the promise of life from death.
In the meantime, let us continue to hold one another close in prayer. May this time of physical distance empower us to build stronger bonds to one another and to God. And most of all, may we all have eyes to see, and ears to hear, what God’s Spirit is doing in our very midst!