Greetings, Third Church Friends!
I will confess to you that I am a little nervous these days; and I will remain anxious until mid-month or so. I rode my bike along the lakeshore on July 4th and witnessed many large gatherings. Didn’t appear to be too much social distancing going on and folks who wore face masks counted themselves in the distinct minority. You New Yorkers really toughened and tightened up way back there in March. We’re all getting more than a little stir crazy; but I do hope that an overabundance of caution wins the day. I left Florida purposely because I envisioned the flood of C-19 cases they are enduring. Now that I am happily residing again in sane and sensible New York, we all need to keep working together to keep this little beast at bay.
Some of us feared the extension of this pandemic into the summer. And here we are, about to enter Month Five of this goofy existence. “Normal” remains out of our grasps, or even our imagining at this point. I assure you that I am challenging Third Church’s staff to ask an important question every week: What more/else/different can we do to be the church for one another as these days drag on? Let’s be honest: the novelty, such as it ever was, has long since worn off. As cases surge in other places and leadership at the highest level flounders in the face of the obvious, we need each other more than we ever considered we might! Help us out by sharing your brilliant ideas for staying connected with one another.
We are erring on the side of caution by design AND realizing the immense opportunity that lies before us precisely because we have already made a commitment to be in community with each other. A reminder (or a self-invitation): I am willing to journey out with my mask and make an in-person visit to you and your family. What a wonderful new reality: a visit from the pastor which might be the highlight of a week!!
The apostle Paul focuses our worship attention again this week. In Romans 8, he transitions from looking around at what has become of sinful humanity to looking ahead to what the transforming power of God’s grace in Jesus Christ can effect in our world. As has been my intention these past weeks, I want to see the parallels between ancient Rome and present-day Rochester. Anyone want to argue that our world isn’t in need of transformation these days?!? Didn’t think so.
I’d like to close with a profound word of gratitude, something I hope to say more about next week after the mid-year reports are in. Our financial situation at Third Church remains way more solid than anyone dared to imagine around March 15. Our expenses are down somewhat to be sure; but I don’t think those of us in leadership would have predicted the level of continued support you have provided since the onset of COVID-19 changes. We aren’t out of the woods; but we will admit to exhaling a regular (socially-distanced, masked) sigh of relief and gratefulness.
The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD
(618) 606-1053—after office hours; emergencies