Dear Friends in Christ
This past Sunday we caught a glimpse of the community we have missed these past seven months. Seventy five of you gathered on the front lawn of the church in tartan masks and chairs brought from home, spaced six feet apart, and offered worship to God. We didn’t get to exchange hugs and handshakes with the peace, or hold hands as we sang “God Be with You ‘til we Meet Again” (it wasn’t quite the same as you were humming under your mask). But we did catch sight of what the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls the “visible grace” of the Christian community. Simply, it is grace to see one another and to remember that we are a part of a real and visible community, even if we can’t always see it.
Bonhoeffer reminds us what the basis of our community really is. “Christian Community,” he says, “means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. There is no Christian community that is more than this, and none that is less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily community of many years, Christian community is solely this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.” If Jesus Christ is the basis of our community it means that no temporary suspension of worship, no virus, and no good-faith efforts at social distancing can alter that reality.
In the meantime, the work of the church continues. This year our missions team has given a record amount to local and national non-profits working towards COVID relief alongside regular priorities. Our congregational care team has been providing meals and support to families experiencing illness and grief. Our scholarship singers have been leading us in worship, preparing diligently every week. We have added a member to our support staff for worship so that we can better utilize technology to stay connected. We still study the Bible, pray, and give.
This work will continue as long as COVID-19 does, and beyond. And so this year, while we may feel separate from one another, unable to be together, I ask you to remember that your connection to the community of faith at First Presbyterian Church is much deeper than the extent to which we can always see it. This year our stewardship theme is, “Together in Christ,” as we recognize the basis of our unity and mission in the work of Jesus.
I hope you will support this work through your prayers, your presence, and your financial contribution. You can return the enclosed pledge card by our stewardship commitment Sunday, November 15. You can return an electronic pledge card which can be found in our online newsletter or your email. Or you can give through our website: firstpresdalton.org/giving.
Whether you are a first-time giver or a longtime member, know that your contribution and your presence matters as you bring something of God’s grace into our community.