I sent this out to the congregation today:
Dear Campbell Church,
A few of you have been curious about what the congregation’s response to the flu pandemic is. Of course, our response is fluid, as the situation evolves. In numerous and ongoing conversations with staff, worship planners, and leaders, our current response is as follows.
Each individual who gathers for worship (or some other meeting) is able to decide for him or herself the level of contact with which he or she is comfortable, including the choice not to gather together at all. Each person’s decision will be respected by others, so that in interpersonal interactions, the one whose comfort level is for the least amount of contact will determine the response.
You could even use this as your conversation starter when you greet someone. You say, “Hi! Are you a hand-shaker?” They say, “Nope, I’m a waver!” You say, “Great! Good morning!” And give them a big friendly wave.
As for me, just so you’ll know: I will greet you however you want to greet. I know that touch is very important for some, and very uncomfortable for others. So if you want to shake my hand, do so. If you want to give me a big hug, do so. Knuckle bump? Groovy! If you want to put your thumbs in your ears, stick out your tongue, and wiggle your fingers at me, go for it! It doesn’t matter; the point is that I want to greet you – I want to see you in worship!
The same principle holds true for Holy Communion, which will be celebrated this week. All of the servers will be healthy and have thoroughly cleaned their hands. And if you are not comfortable coming forward to receive a piece of bread from the loaf, please do not let that stop you from sharing the sacrament with your brothers and sisters. Just come forward, let the servers know you do not care for bread or juice, and then kneel in prayer for a few moments around the table. Or just stay in your seat in an attitude of prayer as we celebrate the sacrament together.
The one who stays in their seat in prayer will be regarded no differently from the one who comes forward with hands open to receive a bite of bread. The point of communion is not the bread and the juice, the point is the grace of God. The point is that I believe with all my heart that God’s grace is there for you whether you take a bite of bread or not!
I hope this clarifies things for you. The bottom line is to find a way to be the church and at the same time be careful with this flu season. And as always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the church office any time.
Shalom, Andy B.
Does your congregation have a response or policy regarding this flu season? Do you mind sharing it? Please include it in a comment if so.