When I was talking with you in worship a few weeks ago about the tradition of giving something up for Lent, I doubt many of us were thinking about giving up church services. Yet here we are, approaching our second consecutive Sunday of not worshiping together, not having coffee hour afterwards. It seems so strange! And it’s likely to continue until after Easter (see our bishop’s message, below). Like you, I will continue to miss the experiences of Sunday morning together, and I wonder how to fill the void.
We will miss the greetings, the being together, the singing, the liturgies, the talking, the listening, the sharing, the holding hands, the feeling of being in God’s presence with each other, the blessings of each other’s grace. We will miss the smell of food and coffee, the conversations, sitting at table with friends we’ve known for decades or just under a year, cleaning up together. Somehow, watching a video of a worship service just can’t replace the experience of being there.
Yet we also know it is what we must give up to protect our own health, the health of each other, and the health of our community. So we must look for other ways to at least partially fill the void of not being together on Sundays.
We can seek to place ourselves in the presence of God in our own homes, through prayer, reading the Bible, using devotionals like the Upper Room sent out each day. With the nice weather recently, and likely to continue in the coming weeks, it’s a good time to get out into God’s creation, cleaning up the yard, getting the garden planted, sitting in the sun to warm our bodies, setting up bird feeders, watching nature, and more. You are welcome to come and sit in the sanctuary, to pray, sing a hymn (Donna and I promise not to listen in), watch the sunlight come through our stained-glass windows, read, or just sit and imagine all the saints who have worshiped God in that space during the past 100 years.
We can practice physical distancing and social connecting at the same time by reviving the old practice of chatting on the phone. We’ve made our lives so busy that we tend to only use our phones for asking a quick question, or for setting up a time to meet in person. There are so many ways we can use our phones to connect with each other nowadays and keep up on the news, whether it’s by video, text, or just a plain old-fashioned chat.
We are a church family. Perhaps this is a good time for us to learn how many other ways there are for us to be family, a family in God, that will stay with us beyond this short time of physical separation.