Twelve weeks is a long time to wait. That’s about how long we’ve gone without meeting together in person for worship. Looking back, I had no idea we would be waiting this long. Of course, when we moved worship online the first week, I was on pain medication from recent surgery and not thinking straight, but even those of us without pain killers didn’t expect this.
When we first learned that we might not be able to meet on Easter, many of us thought that we’d wait a couple more weeks and then have a huge Easter celebration when we gathered again, with communion, hugging, and of course lots of singing. As time has moved on, we began to realize that we won’t be able to do communion in our normal style, we certainly won’t be hugging, and singing together is one of the riskiest things we can do as a church body in an enclosed space.
So many things have changed during this time of waiting. What we thought was a pause has become a shift. We will not and cannot go back to the way things were. I am still trying to stomach this. In many ways, we long for this to be over and we long to go back, but it’s not over, and going back to normal isn’t an option. Perhaps it’s like wanting to go back before the tornado or hurricane. Even those who rebuild after natural disasters will tell you that their lives and city are forever changed. They long to go back, but they can’t.
A COVID-19 Task Force at Vista Ridge UMC is meeting weekly to help us make decisions about worship and ministry in the future. As one option was presented, I remember saying, “I really don’t want to do that if we can avoid it.” But then I realized, I really didn’t want to do any of the options presented. I wanted the option that wasn’t on the table, the option to return and have that one situation be as it was pre-COVID-19. What I originally said I did not want is most likely the best option in the scenario we find ourselves in now.
I hope what I write isn’t too depressing. That’s certainly not the point. I write all this to say that as we shift into something new, there will be a number of things we lament. It’s okay to mourn the losses and the changes, both for the church and in your own lives. The Bible has a whole book, Lamentations, devoted to mourning.
As we mourn and as we continue to adjust every area of our lives, we find ourselves waiting. I’ll admit, this is the busiest period of waiting I’ve ever experienced, except for perhaps the time we spent waiting and preparing for the birth of our children. During this time of waiting, we are adapting, tweaking, creating, removing… We’re working to change the things we can, accepting the things we cannot change, and praying for the wisdom to know the difference.