Dressed in the white robes of Easter, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II and the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett — together with remote appearances by the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly — leave little doubt in a worship video set for release April 9 that the good news of Christ’s resurrection transcends the despair, economic deprivation and isolation brought on by the coronavirus.
With Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), offering up a thoughtful, timely sermon and Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, welcoming, praying and promising God’s “peace, poise and power for this time and always” during her benediction, the video, recorded last week in the Chapel of the Presbyterian Center, is designed to unite Presbyterians in spirit during their Easter worship on April 12.
The link to the video, completed by Mike Fitzer of 180 Degrees, will be publicized on several PC(USA) outlets, including the denomination’s website, pcusa.org.
“You are welcome to use the video however you like,” Nelson and Moffett say in a letter to Presbyterians. “We hope it is helpful for congregations that are unable to hold their own virtual worship. Even congregations that are already streaming worship may wish to watch. You may choose to create a sense of community by asking your congregation to watch the video at an appointed time.”
The worship video will be available in English, Spanish and Korean. PC(USA) congregations are invited to share their own joyous expressions of Easter on the Church’s Facebook page.
The worship service includes liturgy in Spanish by Cintrón-Olivieri and a reading by Kohlmann of Luke’s account of the walk to Emmaus. Dr. Bill McConnell plays piano and sings during two sing-along Easter hymns: “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” (232 in “Glory to God”) and “Thine is the Glory” (238).
“What do we do with the time we have?” Nelson asks during his sermon. “Yes, locked up in the house and being told by the government not to go out because of the coronavirus.
“Can’t make it to church this morning like we’d like to. Can’t see our friends in this moment. But what else can we do? What has God given us to do right where we are?
“Maybe God, in God’s own mercy and love — just as God was willing to give God’s only begotten son for us for the redemption of the world and the forgiveness of our sins — could that same God right now be slowing us down, that we might give our full attention to the One who has never taken holy hands and eyes off of us?”
Nelson and Moffett cite the apostle Paul, who wrote these words in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, “We do not grieve as others who have no hope.”
“While this crisis may consume our attention, it cannot destroy our hope,” Nelson and Moffett wrote in their letter. “We join you in prayer for all those impacted by this pandemic.”