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A Modern Pandemic

Most of this week has included a dizzying array of news and e-mails about the Coronavirus COVID 19. Our staff met on Wednesday to review protocols keeping our building clean, teaching the children about hygiene and maintaining safe spaces for people of all ages. In these meetings I am always so impressed by our staff - their kindness, clarity, resourcefulness and commitment to Pilgrim Church and its people.  You will be happy to know that our church will be open for services on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings at 6:15 p.m, throughout Lent. As of this writing there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Barnstable County, and our schools are all open. So we will be holding worship but we will modify some of our practices in worship just to be on the safe side.  Here are some examples of our current thinking for Sunday

We will have one bulletin with all the hymns and scripture printed in it. So you won’t have to reach for any books. We serve coffee and beverages at Coffee Hour. But any snacks will be served individually, so you will only need to touch the napkin not the supply of food.Our pews, tables, handrails and doorknobs will be dis-infected daily.  Children will all use disposable cups for drinking and use hand sanitizer in every room.

This is not an exhaustive list but examples of what we are doing to remain safe and try to curb the spread of infection should the virus be present in our community. All of these policies will be reviewed by church leaders and church staff weekly.  In the meantime, I plan to re-read an award-winning book by Geraldine Brooks, called Year of Wonders.  Brooks’ forte is historical novels and this story takes place in 1666 in a fictional village north of London. It recounts the life of a woman through a year when the village was quarantined in response to an outbreak of the black plague. Though the story tells of many challenges and outright sorrows, it also demonstrates the strength of the human spirit, and the resilience of human beings in the face of grave challenges. It turns out to be an inspiring story of hope and faith.  The church was an important part of that faith and hope. “I left the church that morning bourn aloft by a strange bliss. It seemed we all partook of it: the faces that had been so gaunt and careworn now seemed warm and alive, and we smiled as we caught one another’s eyes, aware of the common grace” {we knew}. These days no one can isolate a village exactly, although the northern section of Italy has indeed been sealed off. But what I see and it is amazing to recognize it on all sides the world around, is people stepping up. Colleges closing on a dime, regardless of the cost or loss of stimulation for students and faculty. Companies re-imaging how to proceed with workers at a distance. Folks scrambling to learn new habits or  imagine ways to face this challenge. Scientists collaborating and sharing information. People of all ages uniting in a common cause. This is not the winter and spring we expected, and I’m willing to bet we have not really begun to see the torrent of surprises or upset that lie ahead. But I hope we can lay some our fears aside, or at least hold them in check, so together we can focus on what matters most. Who knows? Perhaps it will be a time of wonder and we will learn some more about hope and faith along the way.  Blessings, Rev. Susan

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