Big Spring: still the arms and hands of Jesus
by Pearl Hartman
Pastor of Big Spring Mennonite Church, Luray, Va.
Big Spring Mennonite Church is alive and together, even if we have to be together by Zoom. We have said we are so grateful for Zoom and we are so tired of Zoom. But the Holy Spirit has been with us through all of our virtual gatherings and it has been good. By being a smaller congregation, our sharing of joys and concerns continues as if we were together in the sanctuary.
We have learned that we like to be together—in person! With many in the congregation in the high-risk category it has seemed prudent to not meet in person yet. But we do hold our smaller prayer group with everyone wearing masks and sitting six feet apart.
While we like being with each other in person, attendance has been much better than when we meet on Sunday at church. We have been able to include even our member in an assisted living center via telephone, thanks to the outreach of another church member.
Music has been a source of richness and challenge. Some enjoy hearing the hymns of the Mennonite Hour, others are lifted up by recordings in the public domain. We learned the best way to do congregational reading is to have one person read the congregational part and everyone else follow along muted during the Call to Worship. We do wonder if we can continue to have Zoom be a part of our services when we are together again. Sometimes rural internet isn’t always reliable for such things.
With the usual outlets of service and community events closed, we have found other ways to support each other through sickness, fear and worry. Members have helped each other with projects and visited on the front porch. One member offered the idea of “round robin” home visits, where we visit around at different homes to help with a sense of isolation and disconnect. We gave a prayer shawl and handmade mask to our member in the assisted living center as a way to let him feel the arms of the church surrounding him.
One Sunday a member needed medical care. Others were there to provide support and transportation. It gave us all comfort to know that nothing would keep us from being the arms and hands of Jesus, no matter what impact COVID-19 will have on our lives. As we exercise discernment and courage, we try to listen for God’s still, quiet voice that speaks to us through the storm and to hear each other’s voice too.