As we approached a busy country intersection, a sturdy old building with graceful lines came into full view.

Ono United Methodist Church near Plum City, Wis., explained on their Facebook page that Durand, Maiden Rock and Ono/Plum City United Methodist Churches have suspended all in-person activities.

A video snippet showed Pastor Grace with a big smile saying, “Jump over to the Durand page.” When I did, I was greeted with pretty piano music for the Nov. 1, 2020, worship service.

Announcements included a big shout-out to an active church member retiring from the local grocery store, and an update on cookie orders for early December delivery.

For the children, pastor explained she’d been handing out gourds this past week — making people look at her funny and think twice by saying such things as, “May the gourd be with you, “May the gourd be faithful unto you,” “May the gourd look upon you with favor ...” (ooo, perhaps googly eyes).

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Pastor Grace extended the peace to listeners including “in your kitchen or your car” with the literal outreaching of her hand after firmly placing it on her heart, and invited us to do the same.

The psalm reading talked about taking refuge in the Lord and “lacking no good thing.” Another scripture reading referenced “blameless conduct.” The main text was the beatitudes with all those fine attitudes. Pastor Grace was at the Sea of Galilee four years ago with her mom. It was so calm. She said the “blessed are they” phrases can sometimes sound almost “insulting” — perhaps seeming to make light of suffering. But she maintains comfort is “inevitable,” often provided by the saints we mourn. What’s important is “intention” and being “part of something bigger.”

Prayers included lifting up the election process in our democratic republic, including the petition that we “learn from each other and grow in respect.

Introducing a recorded litany lamenting loss, hope was spoken that people may be “overwhelmed with assurances.” We could intermittently hear pastor praying along as she was partially obscured behind a decorative wooden divider; a wooden cross with green fabric draped over the horizontal beam was a focal point. The presentation envisioned a fifth candle reminiscent of Advent — representing a glowing ember of resilience.