Time. As recently as last year, time seemed to be a dependable quantity. You could go over to your calendar, and you could count how many days it would be until some particular thing happened. Like concerts. Or baseball seasons, or races, or even til Sunday morning worship. For example, on my birthday in March every year I knew it was only ten days or so til the baseball season started. I could absolutely depend on it.
But with this on-going unpredictable pandemic, time has ceased to mean what it used to mean. Late March did not bring the beginning of the baseball season. April did not bring a large in-person Easter celebration. Spring and Summer did not bring all the usual concerts that we thought would happen.
We used to feel like we could depend on time to bring our favorite things to us. But now, we are all in a holding pattern. Days are passing but they are not seeming to bring us closer to the activities of our “regular lives.”
I know that all of us would love to get back to in person worship gatherings again. But for right now, the primary thing is to keep everyone safe and physically healthy. Currently, the rate of infections in our county and in our state are climbing, not decreasing. And every in person gathering just increases those numbers. I mourn for all the churches in which there were outbreaks that caused illness and deaths. I mourn even for those who intentionally went against the directions of public health officials to have in-person worship services. I do not want to see anyone suffer, even if my belief is that they caused the suffering by their own choices. As a minister, who is responsible for bodies and souls, I do not wish to rush to in person activities that could spread this awful disease.
I find it hard, even emotionally painful, to admit that I do not know when we will be able to go back to in-person worship services. Pastor Vickie and I would love to plot a date for that to happen, but right now we just cannot do that.
So this time calls for faith and patience. Let us have faith that God remains with us, even as we gather only by zoom and live stream. And let us pray that God will make us patient to keep holding on through this challenging time. God’s people have been in holding patterns before. There were about seven weeks between Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Tradition says that the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they settled in the Promised Land. The waiting must have been hard on the people, but please remember the great days of Pentecost, and the entry into the Promised Land did finally happen. I hope that you will keep waiting and hoping along with me while we are still on the way.
With hope and faith, Pastor Ted