Noticings – January 5, 2022


January 5, 2022

It surprised me when I heard myself say it. Or maybe it was the feeling that accompanied it that surprised me. ‘It’ was my reaction to the latest round of safety restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. The previous round cancelled our in-person Christmas worship – again, for the second year in a row. Deja- vu. This latest round, announced a few days ago, tightened things even more. What was this reaction I’m on about? I said, out loud, “Oh, back to normal then.” And, I must confess that I felt a little relieved.

Don’t get me wrong – it was wonderful to begin to venture back out into the world, and especially to start worshipping in-person again back in November and December. Seeing the (masked) faces of folks we hadn’t seen in so long, knowing that the majority of folks who were there were folks who don’t easily access the online offerings we have, so for some gathered that was their first worship experience in a year and a half – that was very special to be part of.

Oh, and as a preacher to actually hear people chuckle at your attempts at humour is amazing! Or to see someone nod their head in agreement or resonance with your brilliantly insightful observation is very encouraging. Without that you can start to think all your observations are brilliant – or none!

And yet, those in-person worship times were also very, very stressful. Knowing that we might have to turn people away if they didn’t have proof of vax to enter, worrying about people getting lost in the moment and forgetting the rules, adapting to the different sanctuary layout and worrying that I may not communicate well with both the online and in-house congregations – and the big one, knowing that the people who were present were likely among the most vulnerable to Covid, and dreading the thought that our church service might be a source of contagion for anything other than the Spirit – these were all stressing me out.

So perhaps it’s not surprising after all that my reaction to returning to our small, self-contained, controlled, safe worship studio setup was relief, and that after functioning in that groove for 20 months it felt like going back to ‘normal’. So if this is going to continue to be our ‘normal’ for the foreseeable future then let’s make the best of it. Let’s continue to innovate with creative ways to nurture community, to compassionately care for one another, to engage in our collective ministries, to do fund raising, to be church! We’ve kinda got the worship thing covered. It’s back to ‘normal’ there. I don’t know where 2022 will take us, but I do know that the more time, energy, and resources we invest in creative ways to be ‘together while not together’ will strengthen us as a community of faith both now and in the times to come – whatever they may look like. Happy New Year. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s deja-vu all over again!”

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Rev. Larry