Pastoral Postscripts

Faith in Community

"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

In February 2020, Pope Francis said that Christians are “to live the faith, not individually or in isolation but in community, as a people loved and willed by God.” In the months that followed, I believe his point was proven, as the pandemic has forced Christians around the world to live out their faith in isolation.

Yes, I can, and do, pray as an individual. I can pray in a lonely place as Jesus often did. In fact, Jesus spoke about praying in isolation: “When you pray, go into your most private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open” (Matthew 6:6). But I when I pray in community with the congregation, with Lutherans across the country, with Christians around the world, I find my faith is strengthened.

Yes, I can, and do, sing hymns solo and a capella. In the shower. In the car. In Hobby Lobby. But when I am able to sing in the choir or lead the Kyrie and hear the assembly respond, my voice blends with those of others, making a beautiful harmony of praise to God.

Yes, I can, and do, receive Holy Communion privately or in a small group. Christ is just as fully present in the elements. But to receiving the meal with tens of thousands of others (like at the ELCA Youth Gathering) is an awe-inspiring experience and a foretaste of the feast to come.
Yes, I can, and do, read the scriptures privately. But when the scriptures are proclaimed publicly, I hear them differently. When I study with a group, even if I am the “teacher,” I often learn more than I would on my own.

Yes, I look forward to the day we can come together again in a safe way. With the coronavirus infection rate decreasing and the vaccine rate increasing, I hope and pray that will be sooner than later.

Until then, hang in there. Keep praying, keep reading, keep singing, keep giving. Keep the faith.

Pastor Tom Pairan

P.S. Watch the weekly announcements for information about our Midweek Lent activities. We have a few possibilities in mind, but details were not yet finalized at the time of publication.

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74 West Main St, Chillicothe, OH 45601, USA

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