Last Sunday, I took part in a birthday parade for a matriarch of my congregation who just turned 90. Mrs. P and her daughter stood on their front porch and waved as we all slowly drove by and waved out our car windows and honked our horns. I heard later that it took two hours for the whole parade to pass by!
In normal times, the congregation would have celebrated Mrs. P’s birthday with cake and punch in the parish hall after worship, and those same two hours would have been just about enough time for everyone to shake Mrs. P’s hand and kiss her cheek. But these aren’t normal times. The virus is still out there, with no known cure or vaccine yet, and it’s especially dangerous for people her age. We wished Mrs. P happy birthday from the street as she stood on her front porch because we don’t want to take any chances with her health.
I know you have someone like Mrs. P in your congregation, and maybe in your circle. Or maybe one of your congregation or circle is a cancer survivor, or has asthma or diabetes, or any of a dozen other conditions that make her more vulnerable to severe illness. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s you.
Our local bishop has sent out a long list of detailed guidelines for congregations to follow as they begin to plan a careful, cautious, slow path to re-convening in our church buildings as before. But no matter how careful the congregational leaders are, there are still plenty of people like Mrs. P (and me) who will be avoiding gatherings indefinitely. And that’s fine. Everyone respects that. We all agree that we want Mrs. P and everyone else to stay safe and to stay connected to the community.
That’s why the congregation is committed to keeping our online life going indefinitely, and that’s why we’re making such careful, cautious, detailed plans. Yes, it’s a hassle. Yes, it would be easier (and cheaper) to unplug the computers and throw open our doors right now, with no further ado. But we can’t do that. We have to be careful. Why?
Because we are our sisters’ keepers.
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA.
Your generous Regular Offerings help keep our community of women connected, too.
Whenever your congregational women’s group meets, whether in person or online, please make a generous Regular Offering. Make your check out to Women of the ELCA and write “Regular Offering” on the memo line. Then mail it to your congregational unit treasurer.
The congregational unit treasurer will keep part of it for your ministries and will forward the rest to the treasurer of your synodical women’s organization. She, in turn, will keep part for the ministries of the synodical women’s organization and forward the rest to the churchwide women’s organization. And that will help support the ministries of the churchwide organization, including the website hosting this devotion.
Why? Because we are our sisters’ keepers – all our sisters.