NOVEMBER 28, 2021

     What does a bad day at work look like for you? It means different things for different people, and the stakes are higher for some than others. A teacher having a bad day can confuse many young minds for the rest of their lives. A carpenter having a bad can mean that that wall will never look quite right. A surgeon having a bad day can mean someone’s knee bends the wrong way. A bus driver having a bad day can make the lead on the evening news.

     I had a bad day in worship last Sunday morning, making 10:30 – 11:30 one of the longest hours of my life. Due to technical difficulties that took more than half the service to rectify, you may have had tolerable audio at home, but no visuals beyond the live feed of what was happening in the room—which may have seemed quite reasonable. If that was your experience well and good—and be glad you joined us via livestream.

     Meanwhile, back in the sanctuary, I was striving to orchestrate worship while not knowing if—or when—we would have the graphics of hymn lyrics and the like that allow people to participate fully in worship. As I tried to figure out how much to tread water and when to plod forth, I was watching the chaos in the back of the room as Tracy was working with the video technician to go through checklists and see what was amiss while calling for assistance which eventually allowed us to resume operations as normal. (Nothing to see here, folks; go on about your worship!)

     I cannot remember when I have been so relieved to conclude a worship service by saying, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” as I was last Sunday. Was it the end of the world: of course not. I did feel keenly aware that anyone tuning in—as well as those in the room—were not getting what they needed to enter fully into the praise and worship of God, and I regret that. Could I have changed anything once worship began—no! Can we make some process improvements to guard against such a fiasco in the future: indeed we can, and shall!

     I will reiterate what I have said before: even when COVID-19 is relegated to the past tense, we will still offer worship online as well as in-person, even though it complicates what goes on in the preparation and execution of a worship service. We have increased our reach and accessibility significantly since the pandemic began and to return to in-person worship alone would be a monumental disservice to those who now think of Holy Cross as their church home, whether or not they have ever entered the room.

     My takeaway from last Sunday morning is the old phrase: Keep on keepin’ on. That is what I was left to do as technical difficulties beyond our control played out in front of me. From what I have been told, that tactic was effective in keeping people tuned in despite the glitches.

     That is probably a good saying to intone frequently during Advent, as we look for the coming of Christ amid all the pain and injustice in the world: Keep on keepin’ on. Let us put one foot in front of the other as we seek to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with God; if we do, all will work out because we are not alone. After all, this is the season of Emmanuel: God with us!

Grace to you and peace,

Pastor Gary



     Children’s Worship is back as “Children’s Worship with Mort ’n Friends” and YOU are the friends! We could not have done this without YOU. We are excited to again offer this online worship for kids of all ages!

     HERE is the LINK on YouTube for the November 28, 2021 unlisted video:


     Children's Worship is a free innovative online worship experience for children everywhere. The production is now a collaborative effort sponsored by the United Methodist Churches of the Sacramento Pentecost and Resurrection Circuits. The 15-20 minutes includes music, faith-based messages and special friends to meet--including a puppet called “Mort” ... video clips come from around our church family in Northern California and Nevada.

     The series started May 31, 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and stopped at the end of July 2021 (after 61 episodes) BUT due to the increase in Delta-variant cases, has started again for those children who cannot attend in-person church yet as well as for everyone else--young and old!


     The state of California has completely reopened with most restrictions reduced or eliminated with some remaining guidelines for face coverings in public areas.

However, the county of San Joaquin

  • Currently has less than 40% of its population fully vaccinated,
  • Has a Covid case rate that is much higher than the state case rate.

For those reasons, at Holy Cross UMC when we gather in-person.

For INDOOR services, events, or meetings we will:

  • Continue to wear a face mask or a full-face shield. Persons leading worship from a distance of 10 feet will be exempt from wearing a face covering.
  • Allow congregational singing!
  • If vaccinated: with a mask or full-face shield in place,
  • If not yet vaccinated: please refrain from singing in the presence of others.
  • Enter and exit from the front door.
  • Eliminate one-way travel to and from the restrooms.

Click on the file for the FULL description of our policies!