19 May Gathered in the Spirit
It was a real gift to be with my family in Denver for Mother’s Day. Thank you, Gene Kendall and Mary Pullen, for covering the pulpit while I was away. I heard wonderful reports of both worship services, technical difficulties notwithstanding. And my thanks also to Barbara Allen who fielded, as she always does, the myriad phone calls, questions and needs that come through the church office each day. We are blessed with wonderful leaders and I am truly grateful.
This week we turn our attention to the Holy Spirit as we celebrate Pentecost on Sunday. Let’s rock some red! The sermon, music, and liturgy will all focus our hearts on the ever-present reality of God’s Spirit with us, and after church, we will enjoy another “lemonade on the lawn” event.
You may well be wondering what the recent CDC update means for worship at Calvary. The short answer is that for the next month, until the Session meets on June 12 and has a chance to discuss the CDC’s revisions, we will continue to wear masks inside the church building as we have been doing since returning to in-person worship. It is encouraging that signs of normalcy are beginning to emerge, but the safety of our church family is still our priority.
I know many folks are feeling hesitant about venturing out and back into their pre-pandemic routines. There is even a name that has been coined for it: Covid Cave Syndrome. That’s not meant to be a medical diagnosis; simply a term that acknowledges that re-adjusting to in-person activities is going to be a process that will take time. Nearly half (49%) of adults recently polled said that they feel uneasy about returning to in-person events. The coronavirus forced us to change and learn many new habits over the past 15 months. Some of those habits are good and will hopefully stick around long after the pandemic is gone, like washing our hands frequently. Perhaps many of us will continue to wear a mask in some places—in hospitals or on public transportation, for example. These would be healthy practices to continue with or without Covid-19.
But other habits will need to be un-learned. For several months, fear of a deadly virus was a protective impulse. It reminded us to be take precautions, to be vigilant, to stay informed and adapt to new information. But fear is a poor long-term companion. It can lead us to withdraw, to choose isolation over engagement, to treat people with suspicion. Even our well-founded fears need to be tempered with wise and diligent participation, lest we fail to experience any joy or abundance in our lives.
Then there’s the habit of comfort. Perhaps you have enjoyed (even loved!) going to work, interacting with colleagues, family, and friends, and watching online worship in yoga or sweatpants, with a mug of coffee always within reach. Living virtually has certainly had some advantages. But vibrant relationships—and communities of faith—take more than “phoning it in.” We may be able to manage a project, write a term paper, or run a meeting from a home office, but Zoom is not a good long-term substitute for being present with and for one another. There is nothing that takes the place of looking people in the eye, holding someone’s hand in prayer, sharing a meal in community, or worshiping together.
If you are feeling hesitant about returning, that is understandable, and no one is rushing you, judging you, or comparing you to anyone else. Each one of us will move at our own pace. Take it slowly. Stay informed. Find the balance between tiptoeing out but not forcing yourself to go too far. Just know that we miss you and we need you. We need each other. Our bond as brothers and sisters in Christ is what church is all about, after all.
Yours for the Kingdom,