Messiah News

COVID Update

My wife Gretchen and I live in a co-housing condominium. There are 39 of us, 55+, living in intentional community. You'll not be surprised to hear that we've been having the same kinds of COVID conversations Messiah Lutheran has been having over the past three years. Gretchen, with her Masters Degree in Nursing, has been an active and interested condo member in COVID conversations. She's not an expert in infectious diseases, but she's well read and has kept up with the ever evolving questions and concerns we al have. So, I consult with her and try to listen!

What we know about COVID is the following:

1) It's here to stay.
2) People still die from COVID every day, but with vaccines and a whole lot of new learning it is not the problem it once was.
3) Before we knew how COVID was transmitted we were washing fruits and vegetables, wiping down our hymnals, etc. etc. Now we know that COVID is not passed through physical contact. 
4) The COVID virus does not live in our mouths or digestive tracks. COVID finds stomach acids and saliva in hospitable. So, even if you take a bite of an infected person's hamburger you are not really at risk of contracting COVID. (However, this is still not a recommended behavior!)
5) COVID does live in our nasal passages and lungs. It is carried by the tiny water droplets that accompany our breathing. That's why we've masked and practiced social distancing.
6) In the past, when we were tracking possible COVID infections, the CDC wanted to know if somebody was within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more. Passing infection takes a little time so this was the window of concern they felt was significant. (And all of this was before vaccines.) COVID isn't just waiting to leap out and get you. 

Because of the decreased risk of contracting COVID due to our better understanding of the disease, vaccinations, and societal care, masking is not required in most public venues anymore. We at Messiah have not required masking for some time, and due to members' mutual care and consideration we have not had problems. We've even started passing the offering plate again!!

Only three COVID practices remain among us.

1) Some of us still choose mask when at church or in public. We totally support and respect this practice. If you wish to mask at church please do! Masking is not only a COVID prevention practice, but can be useful in cold and flu season and with other sorts of health concerns. Please continue all the good hygiene practices we do all the time, like washing or sanitizing your hands, sneezing into your arm, etc. Thank you!

2) We have not physically "Passed the Peace" in worship since COVID. Like passing the offering plates this seemed unwise for a time. Pr. Tom has another article for you about returning this practice to worship. We miss this wonderful opportunity so want to see if it's not time for it's return. If you're not comfortable shaking hands or hugging must flash a peace sign. It's all good!

3) And, to date, we have still asked those who distribute Holy Communion to mask. This is what I asked my wife Gretchen about. Her opinion, and those of others we have consulted with, is that this is no longer feel a medically indicated, anti-COVID necessity. So, beginning June 11 we are not requiring Communion Assistants to mask, although they are certainly welcome to do so if they so choose. And again, some of you who come to communion choose to mask and that is always fine!

Communion Assistants at Messiah Lutheran always have - and always will - wash or sanitize their hands before serving. Communion Assistants at Messiah Lutheran always have - and always will - be asked not to serve if they are not well, sneezy, have a cold, etc. We do this - and more - out of concern for general health. It is only the practice of Communion Assistants masking that we are changing because, again, this seems to be no longer medically indicated.

One COVID practice that still remains, however, is the availability of individualized, sealed Communion elements for those who wish them. Just ask.

If you have questions or concerns about this change in policy please talk with me or any member of our staff or Leadership Team. Thank you so much!

Pr. Dave Brauer-Rieke


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