With the sleeves of his plaid shirt rolled all the way down against the chill and his reflective sunglasses straightforwardly facing the sunny day, Pastor Todd invited those congregating outdoors at Bethel Covenant Church in rural Ellsworth to help themselves to coffee and hot chocolate.

The band was setting up between him and the playground equipment. He was holding a red and green Operation Christmas Child shoebox, donations collection has begun.

As for other announcements, on the first Sunday in October, after the outdoor service, there will be a walk-thru on how worship is to be conducted indoors on Oct. 11, 2020. Pastor acknowledged in advance that there is an extremely high probability no one will be 100% satisfied with the new arrangements.

Preparing to deliver the message, Pastor Todd glanced at the livestream comments and laughed out loud at the suggestion he should have a telescope and a parrot because from where he stood in the wooden playground structure behind the church he looked like a pirate in the crow’s nest. He resisted looking at further comments while he preached. I watched online.

He talked about earthquakes, three of them, as depicted in the Bible around the time of the crucifixion. After the first one, as Christ gave up his spirit, the curtain in the temple ripped in two. I never fully understood before that represents a very good thing. It meant with the death of Jesus we all now have direct access to God, who had previously been withdrawn behind a curtain like the blinding sun. God is now more approachable.

The other two earthquakes were at the empty tomb — in the ground from the stone being rolled away and in the people present, the “female disciples” and the guards.

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Pastor Todd said the importance of going to church is to remind each other of these wonders. Not to be like him when he was a student in Chicago and constantly finding fault with churches he and his now wife were visiting, where perhaps the building smelled funny or the pastor was too “goofy.”

Rather, when others aren’t quite “feeling it,” we’re to let them “borrow a little bit of faith.”