Worshiping In Unity, Psalm 133:1

Dear HLPC family,

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  (Psalm 133:1).  That verse came to mind as I sat down to write today’s Pastor’s Pen.  Why is that?  Sadly, COVID-19 has been a tool of the Evil One to bring disunity not only to the nation but also to the Church.  Due to the conflicting information we at times receive, combined with the hyper politicized age we live in, the proper response to virus concerns brings different and sometimes strong reactions.

You are well aware of the challenges we have faced as a local congregation in regard to corporate worship. We have enjoyed, for some time, a great time of outdoor worship but the time has come to move indoors.  Central Georgia is not exactly known for its mild summers.  The time has come.  This Sunday, at 9:30AM we will return to indoor worship here at HLPC.

To help us navigate the various issues and concerns at HLPC a Task Force has been at work discussing and developing protocols for indoor worship that were recommended to and approved by the Session.  You will be receiving those protocols shortly in a separate email.  Let me thank the members of the Task Force for their time and service to HLPC.

            I realize not everyone will be happy with all the decisions made.  In fact, I suspect we’ll all be unhappy with at least some part of our plan thinking it’s too strict or too lenient in places.  My pastoral appeal to you is that you pray that God would give you a gracious and patient spirit toward church leaders and one another.  Remember we are the body of Christ and have need of one another, we belong to each other.  Worship is the oxygen of the Christian life.  God is plain in His Word that He desires for us to be together.  This is our effort to make that happen in the best way possible.  We want to make worship safe and accessible.

            You will see that we are encouraging mask usage, especially when it is hard to maintain social distancing and when we are singing.  Congregational singing is a concern in that it might enhance spread.  Some churches have decided to forego singing altogether.  Yet, singing is a Biblical element of worship.  We are exhorted to address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart (Ephesians 5:19).  We want to sing but want to do so wisely- that’s why the mask request.  We are asking that we serve one another in this way to lessen concerns making worship attendance as worry free as possible.  It’s also why we’ll remain seated while we sing.  During the sermon and Lord’s Supper, when we are spread out and listening and not speaking or talking, it would seem that masks are not needed.

            We will be using the Fellowship Hall as an option for families with younger children since we won’t have nursery just yet giving some room for roaming, so to speak.  It is set up for the video feed.  In addition, we will be providing a section of the sanctuary for those who wish to wear a mask the entire service.  Hopefully, the protocol email coming shortly will help provide more clarity.  The RSVP system will help us plan appropriately.

            Let’s pray that God would bless our indoor worship gathering as He has our outdoor gathering.  He has been very good to HLPC.  May we know the great blessing of dwelling- and worshiping- in unity! 

Your Pastor,