Rod saw this traffic sign on a walk near our house last week. It was a new one for both of us. It indicates that the road surface will change from pavement to gravel ahead. That describes the change that our congregation (and our world) is going through.
As a congregation, we’ve moved from the usual paved path to something entirely different. We are building the plane of “church-in-the-season-of-COVID 19” while we are flying it. We’ve had some bumps as we’ve worked on finding virtual ways to meet. The clogged sewer line raised a stink for three days. Making and posting videos of sermons isn’t as easy as it seems. It seems as if each day holds a new normal, with more restrictions and more states ordering sheltering in place. We have a long way to go before life gets back to “normal” and I suspect that will be a new normal.
I don’t believe for a moment that God created COVID 19, but I do believe that God can work in the midst of terrible circumstances for good. I’ve met more neighbors out doing yard work, sitting on their front porches, and walking around the neighborhood in the past week than I have in the first four months at 740 Jackson Street! While practicing social distancing, we are also introducing ourselves to each other and talking.
Churches all over the globe are utilizing technology to find creative ways to gather together, and to share the good news of Jesus. One church in Nairobi, Kenya, is sending packages including sermons, age appropriate Bible studies, prayer guides, and kids’ worksheets and activities. Churches here in Woodstock are doing the same, as well as finding ways to continue to feed the hungry following CDC guidelines.
Families are finding ways to enjoy being together, in the midst of parents trying to be educators. My grandson learned how to use the washing machine, and actually asked to pick up dog poop! I saw a great video from one of our members of her children having a water battle – that was fun to watch. Our slowing down has had a positive effect on our planet. Satellite imagery shows that staying home has given the earth’s atmosphere an opportunity to take a sorely needed cleansing breathe. A member noted that Venice’s canals are blue, ducks and swans are swimming on them, fish are visible in the water.
In the midst of the challenges and fear, we have also responded with humor, for clean, non-sarcastic laughter is good for the soul. Have you heard this one? “Ten months from now there will be a huge uptick in births. Those babies will be called coronials”.
This is a hard time, for sure, but it is also a time to create space for us to slow down and develop habits and practices to serve us in the future: to recognize what matters most, to laugh at ourselves and with each other, to be thankful for simple pleasures, to rely on God. For that, and for you, I give thanks!
Remember, “the Lord is our shepherd”!