19 March 2020
A selection of three articles in English for our foreign sisters and brothers
The many ways to be a community
We have started to post online the experiences that we have collected in the last few days, and that we will continue to collect, from churches and their structures, which shows that in these difficult days community life goes on, beyond the meeting of people in the same place.
Let’s start from last Sunday, March 8, which was the Sunday of the Faculty of Theology.
The Waldensian Faculty, starting from Monday 9, is closed for lessons, as it is its library. "We are working on the telematic solutions to be implemented - says the dean prof. Fulvio Ferrario - : solutions that can vary in their form, depending on the topic of the courses ".
As for the "Sunday of the Faculty", the day scheduled for the structure to open to the churches, which usually invite professors and students to preach and assign their collections to the Faculty itself, the dean should have held the devotion in the Waldensian church of Rome. - Piazza Cavour: how did it go? «I held the devotion as I had prepared it - continues Ferrario -, but ... alone, with only the people in charge of the filming in streaming and the organist: so, even without people singing live, we could bring music to those who were watching the broadcast. I didn't think I had to change the preaching, which was based on the text of I Corinthians 13, the well-known "hymn to love" included within the discourse on the gifts of the Spirit; of course, during the liturgy I referred to what is happening, but also - in particular at the time of the intercession - to the non-secondary fact that was March 8! ".
Spontaneous initiatives were taken immediately in the Methodist churches of Udine and Gorizia, whose pastor Marco Casci also follows the diaspora of Tramonti di Sopra (Pn).Alessandro Zannier, of the Church Council of Udine, gives reports of them on Riforma n. 10: «the church of Udine, rich in four ethnic groups (in addition to the Italian and Ghanaian ones, the presence of people from Ethiopia and Madagascar is also recorded) continues its active commitment in favor of the community and the city in general...». In this context, family visits continued, and various intra-community contacts and references were maintained, especially in an IT manner. In particular, two video messages were recorded and transmitted - also translated into the twi language - on YouTube with biblical readings, meditation on the Word and a cappella singing of the Immense Grace hymn. They were attended - visibly and in the background - by the young people of the churches of Udine and Gorizia. Our motto, suggested by Pastor Casci, was: «A screen separates us, the Word unites us.
We have tried, all of us, not to give in to emotion alone, choosing the narrow path of faith».
At the Waldensian church in Brescia, it was the youngest to provide the most useful "strategic" and technological ideas in the immediate future. «Our church is small - explains Pastor Anne Zell -, and they live from the periodic meeting, which must now be given up on. The first Sunday I recorded a message myself, in the church, but it is from my fourteen year old daughter that I learned how to use a platform that allows "virtual meetings" between several people, even fifty: it is the system they use at school, and that we can also use for Sunday school. We therefore sent a link to invite everyone to this "virtual room". Sunday 8 at 11 we had the "meeting" of the Sunday school. Of course, boys and girls then talked about it with their parents, and now we are preparing to use the same tool for Bible study and for the Church Council meeting, which is scheduled for next Friday. The case of isolated people could occur - continues Pastor Zell -, either because they are sick or because they are particularly exposed to risk, we are studying how to do their shopping; in the same way, if the need to rely on telematics persists, we will try to meet families who do not have a computer or the opportunity to buy it».
A preparation time
A message from the Waldensian church of Bergamo for the time of the Passion
We are in the desert.
With the gospel of Matthew 4, 1-11 begins the period of the Passion. Sunday 1st March, the first Sunday on which we had to close the doors of our church, was also the first of the Easter preparation period. This gospel of temptations in the desert is the starting and finishing point of the biblical study on Deuteronomy that is taking place in the Waldensian church of Bergamo. Perhaps it is also the foundation where to walk in this time of viral challenge. Our "platform" where to remain united in Christ, in solitude.
We are in the desert.
The daily bread, the temple (ecclesiastical activities) and the mountain (our possibilities in the world) have suddenly transformed, have become virtual. There is now a time to learn to give up. The Protestant churches across the Alps have for many years offered to live the time of the Passion according to the motto "Seven weeks without", inviting the faithful to give up something that is really close to our hearts. Yes, perhaps this is a time to be grasped in its particularity, to be accepted as a challenge: Jesus is there, alone, and limits himself to a few words, three verses of Deuteronomy (Deut. 8, 3; 6, 16; 6, 13). That’s it.
We are in the desert.
And we must learn to resist the temptation of miraculous, religious and worldly power. Resist. While we cannot e-xist for a long time, that is, stay outside, we must now stay inside and re-exist. We are called to a very particular love of our neighbor: if before, to show our love we met and embraced it, now we show love if we do not meet and do not embrace each other. This teaches us the relativity of everything, even of our love. If before any of our churches had still decided to give a sign of hope by leaving the doors of the temple open for worship, the same gesture has now become a sign of unconsciousness and overestimation of oneself. There is a temptation to want to emerge in this time, after all, to take advantage of this situation to expand one's religious and worldly possibilities (one's power). I very much appreciated the "low profile" held by the Catholic church in this period. We must be on guard against the sectarian temptation to want to take advantage of a moment of weakness to launch our - at this point it would be - propaganda. Pastor Bonhoeffer had inculcated it to us, but he also taught us the importance of being alone: only those who know how to be "alone" also know how to be in communion, and vice versa. Communion - we are experiencing these days - is something very delicate, precious, we begin to feel desire towards it.
We are in the desert.
And in this desert we are not alone, there is our faithful Jesus. And with him and like him, we can resist the temptation to want to show that we are children of God, of being Christians, to God, to the others and to ourselves. In the final analysis, to the devil, to the one who makes confusion and tempts us precisely in solitude with his command: "if you are the Son of God, let me see it!". Jesus did not even come down from the cross, when once again the diabolical temptation was felt: "if you are the Son of God, go down from the cross!".
We should therefore be calm, serene, grateful and close to those who struggle and suffer on the front lines. We accept this time "without", this fast, this period of preparation for communion, for the feast of the Resurrection, for what it is. The works, the anxiety and the unrest do not save us.
It’s time for “virtual” collections
A proposal from the Methodist and Waldensian churches of the Second District to limit the damage caused by the failure to collect offers in these days where everything is closed
With the continuation of the emergency situation due to the coronavirus, which has now led to the suspension of all activities throughout Italy, the churches are getting organized with "remote" initiatives (we talked about it for example here) via social media, radio , emailing content, and so on, to keep in touch with and among church members of all ages.
The suspension of community worships, however, has a particular consequence that should not be underestimated: there is not only the loss of the community aspect and the sharing of the Word, but also the economic repercussions that in some communities can be significant.
For this reason, the Executive Commission (CED) of the Methodist and Waldensian churches of the Second District (northern Italy) sent a letter to pastors, presidents of the Consistories and Church Councils and superintendents of the circuits, then also distributed to the other Districts, with the aim of making them sensitive to this aspect.
As stated in the letter, «the failure to participate in the life of the church is also reflected in the finances of the local churches, the collections that enter our already weak intakes every Sunday have been missing for two weeks». The Ced therefore suggests «to invite the members to maintain the continuity of the offers through a simple envelope [similar to the one already in use for the collection of periodic contributions, ed.], With the indication of the Sunday of reference and the name» in order to «underline the importance of contribution even at a distance».
The proposed heading, naturally adaptable, is as follows:
Everything stops us, but the collection carries us forward
Every Sunday, we continue to give our contribution to the Church. Even from a distance, you can be close to the heart and future of our community.
My collection on Sunday ...........
The recommendation of the Executive Commission is to spread this communication to cashiers, members of consistories and church councils, and possibly to all church members.
As an alternative to envelopes, as it is already happening in some churches for normal contributions, there is the possibility of paying your contribution to the bank account of your church.
Traduzioni di Valentina Fries