New Things

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19

My office desk calendar is stuck on March, back when the world still felt ‘normal.’ I haven’t switched the pages yet, perhaps out of a subconscious hope that we will get a cosmic do-over. Just when I thought I had hit my stride in this quarantine/pandemic/“new normal,” I hit a wall instead. Have you hit your wall yet? I have spoken with many people who all have mixed feelings about how we are experiencing church, home, God, and ourselves as we practice social distancing. Some days, it feels relaxing and freeing to have no expectations or schedules. Other days, we mourn our loss of routine and face-to-face human contact.

Each day, I continue making plans for online worship as I monitor the latest news and recommendations on Covid-19 safety. On Wednesday night, I had a nightmare. While nightmares have been a frequent occurrence for me since I can remember, this pandemic has brought on a new brand of church-centered nightmares. This particular one went like this: I get to church to find the choir is practicing and refuses to hear the news about singers causing virus super-spread. Then someone announces that it's a communion Sunday but there are no elements and no time to safely prepare them. No one is social distancing or wearing masks. I go to my office to get my sermon and realize I never finished it. The printer is broken. I fall on the floor coughing and crying while all my pastor friends whose churches aren't having in-person services cover me with a sheet.

Friends, I’m sure some of you feel the loss of in-person worship deeply and I want to let you know that your leaders are doing our very best to try to prepare for the day when we get to worship together in the sanctuary again. The prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s promise to do a new thing and I feel that this is true for us now. During a recent meeting with presbytery pastors, which helped to calm my Wednesday nightmare, we discussed this new thing for churches. In-person worship, when it resumes, will undoubtedly look vastly different; masks, temperature checks, the absence of singing were all issues raised in this meeting. No one seems to know just what to do yet.

Some things will remain though: The Holy Spirit will be weaving her way in and through each of us. The teachings of Jesus will still ring true, some more than ever. God will continue to create, folding and sculpting and shaping all around the world. God is doing a new thing and the church is an integral part of that.

I pray that in this new creation we all recognize the value and importance of educators for all ages. I pray that we see the humanity in all the underpaid workers who provide goods and services that are essential to our survival. I hope that we all better understand the lives of those living with compromised immune systems and those who don’t have access to quality healthcare. I hope that community becomes stronger as we all remember what it is like to be quarantined in our homes, relying on phone calls and letters to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. I pray that the phrase “the way we’ve always done it” will rarely find itself in our spaces, so that we can push forward into this new creation with grace and open minds. I pray that we will see where God is showing up in every step of this process.

For thought:

1. What are you learning about yourself during this experience? Are there any lessons you’re going to take forward into this new creation?

For next week:

1. What do you do in the quiet moments of your day?

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