Keep Hope Alive
By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. Psalm 71:14
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Hope. I love this word. I love it so much that I have a bracelet, a necklace, and a garden sign that says “Hope”. I love what this word represents. It is commonly defined as a wish or expectation for something to happen. However, the Biblical definition shows us that hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised. There are many Bible verses that contain the word hope. There are so many, in fact, that I couldn’t choose just one for this month’s article. July also brings us to the theme of hope in Bethel’s summer preaching series. I have turned to hope (and faith) at many turning points in my life—my parents’ illnesses and deaths, my daughter’s cancer diagnosis, my husband’s death, my son’s struggles. Hope is what I cling to in times of distress. I have also been relying on hope during the last few months of the COVID-19 pandemic and the plague of racism. It has been a stressful time for all of us. I hope that you are beginning to feel hope, as I am. Here is why I am hopeful: we know more about COVID-19 than we did five months ago; we have some of the most brilliant scientists and researchers in the world working on treatment and prevention plans for COVID; people are examining their own hearts and minds about their personal responsibility related to racism; people are beginning to speak about race—but we have to keep the dialogue going; Bethel has an amazing, inspirational group of people who are committed to looking at Bethel’s response to racism; and most importantly, we have our Lord to turn to in times like these. I am hopeful that we will see progress as the days, weeks, and months go by.
In the meantime, we have begun the process of re-engaging at Bethel following not having face-to-face worship for several months. Stay tuned to Bethel Connect, Bethel e-news, and e-mails from Bethel about upcoming plans for worship. Here are some things to remember as you are contemplating a return to face-to-face worship services and other Bethel activities:
Before you enter the church, you will be asked to do a self-assessment about COVID-19 exposure and symptoms. Check the sign near the church entrance for these assessment questions before entering.
Face masks are required at Bethel. Please bring your own mask to worship services and/or if you need to enter the church for any business. Right now face coverings are the single most important thing we can each do to reduce the spread of the virus. Exceptions: children under 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the mask without help, worship leaders, and staff when they are in the privacy of their own office.
Bring your own hand sanitizer to use during the worship service as needed. You will be given a squirt of hand sanitizer as you enter the church for worship services. There will also be hand sanitizer in the Narthex. The restrooms near the office will be open for you to wash your hands—this is still the best way to cleanse your hands.
Maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others who are not members of your family. The seating in the sanctuary will reflect this distancing and the ushers will direct you to an appropriate seat. The ushers will also be dismissing the congregation, row by row, starting in the back. As you leave the sanctuary, please do not linger in the Narthex to visit. We request that you leave the church promptly after leaving the sanctuary. Any small group meetings will also require that you maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your elbow. Dispose of the tissue promptly.
Consider if you are someone who is at high risk for developing COVID-19 infection when deciding if you should return to face-to-face worship. High-risk categories include individuals 65 years of age or older and individuals with underlying health conditions that would make them more vulnerable to the virus. If you don’t feel comfortable attending worship, you may view a live stream or recording of the service on the Bethel website.
As Bethel’s Parish Nurse, my goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy. All of the Bethel staff have committed to make Bethel a safe atmosphere as we return to face-to-face worship and other activities. We are doing this by the items listed above and also a well-defined cleaning and sanitizing process. We can’t wait to see everyone face-to-face, but we have to manage this in a safe manner. We will follow guidelines from the CDC, Minnesota Department of Health, Olmsted County Department of Health, and the ELCA. Please be patient with us. We hope you will join us in keeping all Bethel members healthy by following our guidelines. Thank you!
Keep the faith…and hope!