Worship and Gathering Update
Grace and peace to each of you whom God has called to be His child and to be a part of His family here at Lake Oconee Lutheran.
As individuals and as a congregation, we have been through unique times during the past 4-6 months. Of course, it’s not over yet. Now comes the hard decisions about when is the right time to resume meeting in person. Many people have differing opinions on what to do. We want to be responsible, but all of us desire to worship together again when possible. But when is the right time?
Our church council has faced the question of when is the right time to join together again. In making that decision, we had several things in mind.
- First of all, there is no one right answer that works for every person within our family. If you do not feel comfortable being around others yet, perhaps due to other pre-existing medical conditions, please do not come. Lake Oconee Lutheran will continue to have our worship on Facebook, YouTube and our website. You may join us there and fully be a part of our gathering remotely. You are not wrong to stay home.
- Secondly, if you have a fever, have a persistent cough, have tested positive to Covid, or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, please do not attend for right now. Join us online and hear God’s Word and promise in that way.
- Thirdly, while we worship, we remember that we are also responsible for one another. There will be certain restrictions on our worship together, but even if we do not believe they are necessary for ourselves, we willingly submit for the sake of those around us. In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul faced a very similar situation and writes, “Take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block…” (v 9). We also remember that those all around us are watching our decisions and we do not want to give a poor reflection of God’s love and presence through our own stubbornness.
In light of the above, the Church Council has decided to reopen public worship here at Lake Oconee in stages. Our worship during this first stage will still not look or feel like it did before the shelter in place, but we know that God is still among us.
- First, there will be no Bible class, Sunday school or choir. Those wonderful gifts will come in a later stage. For now, only worship.
- Also, all people attending will wear a mask through the service. This is to protect those around you. Bring a mask from home, or if you don’t have one now, one will be provided. You will not be allowed to stay without a mask in place.
- Strict social distancing will be enforced. While we can certainly wave to one another (and smile behind our masks), there will be no greeting, handshaking or hugging. I know that our desire is to reach out to one another, but for now it must be enough to be together. Everyone will need to enter through the main doors of the church and will immediately go into the sanctuary and sit down. We will all leave through the east door by the choir room so as to avoid interaction. Upon leaving, please go directly to your cars and do not mingle in the parking lots. The west parking lot door will remain locked.
- Upon entering you will pick up a mask (if necessary) use the hand sanitizer, then pick up your own bulletin and communion. These you will take to your seat for use later on. Offering plates will not be passed around, but are available upon entering and leaving the church.
- We will offer communion during the service. We will go through the normal liturgy, and when it is time for the distribution, we will partake in our seats. Directions will be given.
- At the end of the service, we will be dismissed in rows. There will be no fellowship time, and we will head out the east door and get in our vehicles.
In future stages, when the time is right, we will return to Bible class, fellowship, and more interaction. We want and miss those gifts. For the immediate now however, Wednesday Bible class and all meetings will continue to be on Zoom. Our online presence will continue; although it may look different as we transition to new equipment and we will continue to improve its look and performance.
I am sorry for the length of this message. Whether you feel comfortable joining us in worship this Sunday or being a part of it from home, remember that you are in my prayers. I desire only good for you and rely upon God’s love in meeting all your needs.
Earlier this year, Lake Oconee Lutheran had been pre-recording our worship service and then posting it online. Now we have moved to a new way of sharing our service. We are now live-streaming our worship. That means it will be broadcast live on Sunday mornings at 10:30 am on Facebook. Join us as we all come together in worship.
If you are unable to be online at 10:30 am, do not worry. The recorded service will remain available for you to watch later as well. It will be posted on the church website by Monday or Tuesday of each week.
Worshiping God with your brothers and sisters in Christ; now there is more than one way to do that.
God’s blessings to each of you!