St Andrew Lutheran, ELCA
Pastor’s Report St. Andrew Lutheran Church 2020
Grace and peace be with you from God, our Holy Parent, and from Jesus Christ, Our Savior, and Lord.
No one, not one could have predicted what the year 2020 would bring. The year began well. We installed new council members, had a clear vision of where God was leading us as a congregation. We had The Rev. John Wertz, Assistant to the Bishop of the Va Synod lead us in our council retreat. We were on fire for the Lord and were in the process of dreaming up new plans for evangelism and new ways in which to serve our community when March 15 hit…and suddenly, the entire world was out of commission, and life as we knew it had changed.
Out of an abundance of caution, care, and love for our members, and guidance from the Synod, St. Andrew decided not to meet in person for worship. Instead, we all adapted to online worship, via Facebook Live, now, affectionately known as St. Andrew, LIVE! from the She Shed.
During this time apart, yet together in heart, we have gained the recognition of several new folks who have been faithful in joining us in worship. God left the building and went out into the world through social media. Evangelism was happening at rapid speed as members told their neighbors, friends, and loved ones about our online worship. Was this not supposed to be happening all along? For the first time, the passage from Exodus 40: 34-38 made perfect sense…
” Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.
God cannot be contained in a building. Since the beginning of time, God has searched us, sought us out, and walked among us. God makes God’s presence known not through a place, but through God’s beloved creation. God “tabernacles” in, with, and around us. We, more than ever before are the Church in the world, sharing the love of Jesus Christ, one “share” at a time.
Yes, Covid-19 has been horrific. It has claimed the lives of many and reaped economic disaster upon us, but with God, we have become more faithful at serving and loving our neighbors. Our church family has grown and generosity has increased, and for this, I am thankful.
I have no idea what is in store for 2021, but what I do know is this: God is with us, through all the fire and clouds of our days. Whether we worship in our beautiful, dilapidated building at 4811 High Street West, or whether we gather together, apart, the Spirit is at work comforting us and surrounding us with the love of Jesus Christ. This too shall pass and THIS Body of Christ will remain unbroken.
God loves all y’all, and so do I.
Blessings as we walk faithfully into the unknown.
The Reverend Suzanne M. Stierwalt, Pastor