A Letter from the Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches
of the Rocky Mountains
9085 E. Mineral Cir., Suite 170
Centennial, CO 80112
April 7, 2020
A Pastoral Letter to Our ABCRM Family …
From: Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran, Executive Minister
ABCRM Family and Friends,
Lent and Easter 2020 is not going to turn out like any of us expected. When we were making plans for this week and this coming weekend back in January, none of us foresaw a world-wide pandemic that would not only threaten the health and the lives of so many, but would literally shut-down our economy, banish us to our homes and keep us from gathering together to worship.
No, the real world situation has made it so that unless our congregation is no bigger than eight, unless we ignore the current guidelines from the CDC and other experts, unless we let our own selfish piety take the place of common sense and love for our neighbor – we will not worship together, face to face, shoulder to shoulder, dressed in our new Sunday best and packed into the rows of pews like Peeps in their stylized cardboard coops. Oh, we might be able to see one another as we sit in individual cars watching the worship team perform at the far end of the parking lot while straining to understand the preacher’s words over the tinny sound of the radio speakers, but we won’t be face to face.
And for many of us, this inability to gather in worship grieves us.
But the fact that we can’t gather together in worship, can’t gather together with those outside of our own household, can’t gather in our familiar sanctuaries does not mean we cannot gather together in the same place and experience the same inspiration for worship.
You see, although we can’t gather together physically, we can gather together around the places and events of this Holy Week … and we don’t even need to have a telephone or computer connection.
On Thursday evening, we can gather together around The Last Supper. We can gather individually, as a family in or homes or maybe even with a small group together around the scriptures that describe that event (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:2-23; and John 13:1-17) and remember what it must have been like for the disciples that night. We can gather together in our silence as we reflect upon the events that unfolded as Jesus washed the disciples feet and commanded them to serve others as He had served them or as we reflect upon the radical statement of Jesus that one of them would betray Him, or even as He takes the Bread and Cup after supper. We can gather together around this story.
On Friday, we can gather together at the foot of the cross (Matthew 27:27-44; Mark 15:16-32; Luke 23:26-43; and John 19:16-27). We can gather together with the disciples and Jesus’ mother and those who bravely accompanied her. We can watch as Jesus struggles up the road to Golgotha and as He stumbles and falls. We can hear the clang of the nails as they are driven into the hands and feet of Jesus…hands and feet that we aspire to be for Him today … and then hear not only the Seven Last Words of our Savior, but also the confessions of the centurion and the thief. And we can feel the air grow cold as the clouds gather and block out the sun, draping it as one would a clock in more modern times upon the passing of our Lord. And we can witness the rush of getting His broken body off of the cross and buried in the tomb in order to satisfy the Sabbath regulations … regulations He had proclaimed should serve man, not the other way around!
And even more, we can gather together on Sunday morning outside the grave where they had rushed to put His body (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-44; and John 20:1-29) and witness the women coming early in the morning for the horrible, gruesome but loving job of cleaning and preparing the body only to find the tomb empty. We can witness the disciples running to the grave to verify the words of the women and even see the one whom the women had thought was a gardener reveal Himself to Mary Magdalene.
No, we cannot gather together to worship physically this year, but WE CAN GATHER TOGETHER around the stories and the places of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection, even if we are sitting alone in our own living room.
Instead of focusing on not being together physically, this Easter we can focus on being together in God’s Kingdom through experiencing Christ’s great love together in Scripture.
Praying for you and yours this Holy Week and looking forward to Gathering Together In His Word.
Steve Van O
Click below for great ways to share the Easter experience individually, at home, or with a small group! We can do this together--at home!
Rev. Dr. Steven C. Van Ostran
ABCRM Regional Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains
9085 E. Mineral Circle Suite 170
Centennial, CO 80112