Dear friends,

It’s Monday, which means we have a new version of Compline for the week. The service is attached.

I ask your prayers for Peg Maloney, who is having major back surgery tomorrow. And please continue to pray for Cathy Leake, who is recovering from knee surgery last week.

We have two ways this week that we can help people in need during the pandemic. The first is the Sandy Springs Food Pantry, which we have been helping for several months now. There is some food waiting for Elise to deliver on Wednesday, but not a whole lot. So if you have a chance to go to the store please pick up a few extra things and drop them off at church. Thanks to those of you who are making financial donations. We use those in two ways — by making a financial donation to the pantry, and by shopping to supplement the food that we take. 

The other need right now is for Family Promise. We need $25 gift cards to Kroger and gas stations and cleaning supplies. We also need people to spend the night at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody, which is graciously letting three families stay there throughout the pandemic. You can sign up for donations or spending the night by going to our website, and clicking on the SignUp Genius button at the bottom of the page. You can bring gift cards and supplies to the church. If no one is here, we ask that you bring them around to the back, take the middle steps up to the deck, then leave supplies outside my office, and put gift cards through the flap of Dunstan’s cat door, which opens into my (our) office.

Finally, I’d like to share with you this story I read online. Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s not. I hope it is because it is a beautiful story of hope and faith.

A few days ago a Kentucky garbage man noticed no trash cans were being put out at an elderly woman’s house on his route for two straight weeks. He was concerned enough to share the address with his supervisor. She found the name of the woman at the address and called her: “Ms. Smith, we noticed you haven’t put out your cans for a while. Are you ok?” Ms. Smith replied: “I’m ok. But my caretaker was so afraid of the virus that she stopped coming. I can’t get to the store. I don’t have any trash because I’ve run out of food. And I don’t have any family to help me.” After a long pause, the caller said: “You do now. We are your family.”

She let her truck driver know of the sad news. The next day, on his day off, he knocked on her door and asked her to make up a grocery list. “Ms. Smith— the list is too short.” She added a few more items. “Ms. Smith, this list is still too short. Would you mind if I looked into your fridge?” She relented. He opened the fridge and it was bare. Empty. 

An hour later, he brought in dozens of bags of groceries for a woman he hardly knew. 

Tears. An air-hug that met social distancing protocol. And the garbage man walked out of the house of this woman who was physically immobile, but levitating. A garbage man decided he’d reach out to someone and church broke out. His supervisor shared the creed with this elderly woman: “You have a family now.”

I miss our services of worship. I miss that it’s silent now. I’m sick to my stomach we had to push back our start-back date to gather.

But church? Church is happening all around us. It’s a phone-call. It’s a bag of groceries. It happens anytime someone tells another person who is Jesus in his best disguise: “You have a family now.” Real church is not defined by a service of worship, but by servants of Christ. 

Keep being church. That’s all you have to do.

What an important reminder. Who knows when we’ll be able to physically gather on Sundays again? But every time you drop off food for the food pantry, or make a donation or help with Family Promise, church breaks out. Every time you pick up the phone and call or email to check in on someone, church breaks out. I see St. Dunstan’s breaking out all over the place in so many ways. We are still being the church. Every day.

See you tonight at 8.

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