04 Mar New Month & New Plans
The calendar has turned to a new page and with it, we are moving into high gear at Calvary. On March 28, Palm Sunday, we will transition to hybrid worship. What do I mean by “hybrid worship?” I’m so glad you asked! Because over a third of our congregation has now received one of the Covid-19 vaccines, we will slowly begin to bring people back to the sanctuary each Sunday morning while at the same time our live-streaming via YouTube will continue. Thus, worship will stay exactly as it has been for the past several months for those who are not yet vaccinated and remain safely at home, while simultaneously, in-person worship in the sanctuary will gradually return.
Let me emphasize the word transition. We are not “going back to normal.” For starters, all the appropriate pandemic protocols which we have become accustomed to in the past year will be followed at church: seating will be limited to ensure that social distancing can be observed, hand-sanitizer will be readily available, and masks will be required while in the building or on church grounds. For purposes of worship, “wearing a mask” will be understood to mean that a mask covers the wearers nose and mouth at all times.
To be honest, my biggest concern in returning to the sanctuary is the aspect of social distancing. We have been apart for twelve months. We are itching to hug one another, pass the peace with a kiss, or at least get close enough to touch elbows. But these tangible, embodied expressions of our love and care, as important as they are, are still several months away. We will each have to do our part to remain physically distant (by six feet or more) while drawing relationally close. To help us stay vigilant, several changes will be obvious for in-person worshipers: pews marked for maximum seating efficiency, a stationary offering plate rather than one passed down the row, bulletins available in the hallway for people to pick up as they enter, individual communion kits to be consumed in the pew on Communion Sundays, just to name a few. (Speaking of that last one, Elder Glenn Fahrig was spot-on when he recently teased me that using these communion kits might dissuade folks from coming back. Friends, there’s no two ways about it: the wafers are horrid. Their only redeeming feature is that they are small, so the trauma doesn’t last long! Seriously, you’ve been warned….either bring your own bread or hold your nose. ?)
There will be other adaptations we will be making—adding ventilation by opening the windows (wear your coat if it’s a cool morning!), or the extra attention to sanitizing door handles, bathrooms, and common surfaces, or the logistics of entering and exiting the building (hands-free, as much as is possible.) I ask for your understanding and patience as we make this transition. It is not ideal, but we want to focus on what we can do while at the same time minimizing risk.
As with any change, I am sure we will experience a few hiccups along the way. But I also know that we have proven to be resourceful and resilient over these last twelve months, so I’m confident we will figure it out and find a way to move forward. More details will follow as Palm Sunday draws closer, but for now, I want you to be encouraged. The news about the vaccines has been really good so far, better than anyone could have expected. The pace of the roll-out continues to improve. We are going to get on the other side of this pandemic. In the meantime, let us continue to be diligent and careful, smart and patient. And, most of all, let us rejoice and give thanks for God’s goodness to us. God has been unfailingly faithful. What a gift! Or, to put it in the words of the writer of Hebrews: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God is faithful” (10:23).
Yours for the Kingdom,