It was one year ago that almost everything changed. We have now completed a full year of a global pandemic. I’ll never forget when I heard some medical expert say back in May of 2020 that things might not get back to normal until August. He or she, I can’t remember which, didn’t mean this coming August, August 2021. They meant August of 2020! But way back in May of 2020, the thought that we would be living with all these new restrictions all the way through August, three more months, sounded unbelievable and overwhelming.
The last time we worshiped in the building in 2020 was March 15. We worshiped online the following two Sundays. We held our first Parking Lot Worship April 5, Palm Sunday. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow us to worship outside on Easter Sunday. But beginning in May, Parking Lot worship became the norm. To the best of my recollection, we were only rained out once, and that wasn’t until halfway through the service. (Thankfully, we made it through the sermon!?) We almost made it all the way through October out in the parking lot. Beginning on October 25, Reformation Sunday, it just got too cold, and we went back to Facebook Live worship.
Then came March! The COVID-19 numbers finally got low enough, and vaccines were becoming available. As I write this, we have been back inside the building for three weeks! Worship is definitely not the same as it used to be. Everyone is all spread out. (That is not actually all that new.) Everyone is wearing masks. Only three people sing. But as different as it is, it is a sign that we are slowly but surely getting back to normal.
As we contemplate getting back to normal, I think we should seriously ask ourselves: Do we really want everything about our worship life together to go back to the exact ways we were doing it when we left the building last March? Of course, there are some obvious things we want to get back to: no more masks, children in the PrayGround, everyone singing together. I fear if we blindly go back to the ways we’ve always done things, we will have squander a rare opportunity.
Making changes to a congregation’s worship life is always fraught with danger. Which is why changes in worship rarely happen. However, we have been forced to make radical changes to our worship life for an entire year. And we can’t go back to normal right now even if we wanted to. As I see it, we have at least a couple of months before going back to normal is even an option. I believe we should take advantage of this transition time to think, talk and pray about what our worship life should look like whenever things do get back to normal.
Easter is almost upon us. Easter is about new life, new possibilities, new ways of seeing what God is up to in our lives, our community, and our world. What has a year of worshiping from our couches, our cars, our lawn chairs taught us about what is really important in worship? What have we truly missed? What new things have we discovered? What are ways we can make worship more meaningful?
I invite and encourage you to begin thinking, praying, and talking to one another about our worship life at Holy Cross. I have no idea where this may lead us. I do trust that God will lead and guide us as we wrestle with these questions.