Greetings, friends! Lots of people have been calling and getting hold of us asking: “When will we have church again?!” I get it. “Where two or three are gathered…” and “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” seem to almost smack us across the face when we can’t meet in person.
Now, let me step back a minute first and say that we are church when we are gathered physically, and we are church when we are scattered. We are church when we meet in person, and we are church when we meet online or watch videos after the fact. “Church” is nothing more than recognizing our unity, not in ideology, not in preferred worship style or denominational affiliation, or any external thing like that, but rather “church” is the assembly of God, called by the Holy Spirit, being of the same mind as Christ.
Nevertheless, apart from the COVID-19 thing and the dangers that lie therein, there will SOME DAY be nothing precluding us from meeting face-to-face. So, the original question is valid. When ARE we gonna be able to “have church” again?!
Tough question, but here’s a stab at answering it as best I can for now. There are plans taking shape. I know the Governor has given us the official “okie doke,” but leadership here still feels that it would be better to take our cues from scientists than from politicians, no particular offense intended to Gov. Stitt. And in any case, things will certainly look different once the immediate crisis is over.
Some of the things we have to consider include, but are by no means limited to:
* Will we have to wear masks, at least initially?
* How close will we be able to sit next to one another?
* How will we keep common surfaces sufficiently cleaned/sanitized?
* What about the restrooms?
* What about the baptismal font?
* What about Communion?
* What about choir, Bible study, rehearsals, etc., etc., ad infinitum?
* What about altar flowers?
* What about Assisting Ministers?
The list keeps growing. But the good news? We’re thinking about these things.
I was speaking to Catherine after worship last Sunday, and we had considered a “soft opening,” which would be “by invitation only” – just to intentionally limit the number of people here and thereby limit the risk of exposure. This may happen, and it may happen as soon as Pentecost. We are considering having me to preside and lead over worship, Catherine to lead the liturgy, a couple of willing voices from the choir (properly distanced from one another), and some sort of alternative version of Holy Communion, though what that will look like, we can’t yet say. All of this would be filmed and streamed live via Facebook then posted here on this page, as we’ve been doing. In fact, even when we open more broadly, chances are we’ll be seriously considering continuing to broadcast live – though that raises the question of who will run the camera and work sound, and whether we even have the proper equipment for making sure the sound and picture are properly clear and synched and all that jazz. It’s complicated.
So, the short answer to the original question is: We don’t know. But we’re thinking about it, and trying to plan it. I wish I could give you a better answer right now, but I can’t. In the meantime, thank you for continuing to meet with us. Thank you for continuing to support us financially. Thank you for your comments and likes and loves and laughter emojis, and for all the many ways that you continue to make this a worthwhile thing to do. The best way to love our neighbors right now is still to be separate physically, but we ARE all of the same mind as Christ, and we persevere in our love of God and one another.
Keep watching for updates, and remain open to the presence of God, even now, even here on the interwebs.