Eastminister United Church
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From the Pastor’s Pen – March 19, 2020

19th March, 2020 – “the building is closed but the church remains active,” Part 2

I am an immigrant.  My mother brought a young family to this country many moons ago and I was just old enough to somewhat appreciate how difficult the transition was.  The Canadian standard of living was high but it was not easy for an immigrant family, never mind a single-parent family, to make ends meet.  For several years we managed with very little.  We never starved but we lived in a sparsely furnished house and there was little money for the frivolous or entertainment.  Gradually, we made our way, however, but I remember our very first Christmas in Canada.  A few days before Christmas Day, the pastor of the church we attended showed up at the door, a box in hand, loaded with food and goodies.  I remember feeling a sense of embarrassment and thinking to myself that we were not a social assistance kind of family.  Yet, there it was, a box of food and goodies that made our Christmas a whole lot better.  What a blessing!

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how the Jewish people, without the temple, became a people of the Book, or sacred Scrolls.  The Scrolls brought them closer to God when they had no building to worship in and they turned their thoughts to prayer, devotion, and living in the ways of the Lord.  Micah reminds us of that when he wrote, “And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” (Micah 6:8).   Jesus picked up an element of this when he was asked about the greatest commandment.  Jesus encouraged each of us, not only to love the Lord with all of our beings, but to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

When the Pastor showed up with that box of food all those years ago, he was doing something that the church has been doing for centuries.  Following Jesus and showing love and help to others.  And, like the Jewish people in the years after 587 B.C.E., we may not have a building to worship in for the present time, but we still have the opportunity to love and serve and help others in need.

The nature of the COVID-19 virus is such that the best medical minds in the country have told us to social-distance by staying home, avoiding crowds, and maintaining strict cleanliness rituals.  One way we can bless and serve others in these unprecedented days is to follow the medical advice.  It is the only way we will contain the spread of the virus and protect our ourselves and our neighbours.  Beyond that, we are heading into times when many of our seniors will be afraid to go out.  Others will be self-isolating or in quarantine and may need our help.  Another way we can show our love is by helping those who are shut-in.  Some may need groceries from time, and perhaps some younger members could do a little extra shopping and drop things off, if only on a doorstep for one in isolation.  I will be forming a list of willing individuals for this need and if anyone feels that they can do this in the future, please email me at dmcmaster@eastminster.ca.  And if anyone is in need, and have no family or other support, please let us know at the church office.  We will do our best to help.

I am sure there are many things we can do while social-distancing, but don’t forget to pick up the telephone.  Some live on their own and should these containment measures drag out for weeks, and I think they will, a friendly voice on the other end of a phone line can make the world of difference in keeping us all positive, engaged, and aware that we are part of the community that is Eastminster.

The days ahead may be difficult, but these are great days for the church to be the church.  The building may be closed but the church continues.

Dr. David McMaster

p.s. if you can think of other ways that we can “be the church” while social-distancing, please mention them in the comments below (on Facebook only)