It is hard to believe that it has been three years since the beginning of the pandemic.
I first realized we were coming up on the anniversary when our daughter, Margaret left for the 8th grade trip to Washington D.C earlier this month. This was the last in-person event that her older sister, Ruth, did three years ago before the shutdown. Emma Kate, our youngest, never finished pre-K that spring. She then started virtual kindergarten in the fall from a small table in our living room. We all have these kinds of memories that represent a larger moment in time. Once the memories surface, others follow. I remember trying three different ways to get into the hospital to see Elizabeth Crawford before she died. I remember learning to light fire pits for weekly youth group. I remember looking into the camera in an otherwise empty sanctuary to see the church gathered – trusting that you could see me – reminding us all that somehow we were in that moment together.
Three years ago this Sunday was the first Sunday we livestreamed from an empty sanctuary. Mark McCorry used old equipment to stream worship. Scott Woodall had recently wired the sanctuary for high-speed internet, not knowing how much we would come to rely on it. Scott and Anna worked together to insure we had the right keys and passwords to successfully stream from the sanctuary. In the sermon that day, I reflected –
There are “…two threats that we are currently facing because of the coronavirus Covid-19. The first is a threat to public health, especially the health and well-being of those who are most vulnerable among us…but the second is a threat to the fabric of our community, to our sense of care, connection and compassion, and our response to this threat with be guided by the Spirit and this, church is where we may be mustard seed and yeast, scattered, yet growing and rising-up to bear witness to the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven."
The last three years required much of us, and these last three years have changed us. Whether you have been anticipating this anniversary or it snuck up on you, it is important to mark this moment, to remember and tend to whatever emotion bubbles up to the surface. Remember the people and the time you lost. Remember what mustards seeds kept you alive and connected and how you were yeast rising to meet the needs of the times. Notice how those experiences have changed you. How do you feel now? Are you still carrying a weariness that won’t go away; or is your calendar packed as you make up for lost time or both? What is bringing you life? Where do you need more room to breath? Maybe this is an internal conversation or one you have with close family; or maybe you get your pod together, those neighbors who gathered outside to check on each other. Remember, reflect, notice, and listen. There might be something you hear from inside yourself or those closest to you that helps you know what you need for this next season of life.
And, as always, church may the Spirit lead our way.
See you in church (which I no longer take for granted),