It was one year ago this week that the world as we knew it entered into a state of—how might we describe it? Suspended animation? COVID-19 quarantine? A dystopian dream that you can’t wake up from because it’s reality?
It was one year ago this week that brought about a cascade of local and regional cancellation of professional conferences, sporting events, music concerts, cultural events, and live classes in schools and universities. You know it’s bad when Saint Patrick’s day parades are cancelled in Ireland!
It was one year ago this week that we held our last live worship service before making the transition to our prerecorded YouTube livestream services. Our teens had just held their “Swishin’ for a Mission” basketball fundraiser and many of our sisters had just returned from the Women’s Retreat in Temecula.
It was one year ago this week that I announced to the congregation, “At this point, most things are on pause for the next week or two until we see what will happen.” Looking back, that sounds comical! Would you have guessed that the next week or two would stretch out into a full year?
During this past year, we’ve adapted to mask-wearing, engaged in social distancing, navigated the world of Zoom meetings, taken countless walks, worked lots of puzzles, participated in numerous drive-by ministry events, learned how to give electronic offerings, and adjusted to online worship services and small groups. We’ve grieved over 2.6 million worldwide COVID-related deaths and the hardships caused by job losses and widespread economic shutdown. We’ve lamented the loss or postponement of landmark events such as weddings, funerals, and graduations.
More recently, we’ve celebrated the rapid development of highly effective vaccines and are feeling hopeful as the vaccines become more widely distributed. The most recent data available indicates that 18.3% of Californians have received at least one dose of the vaccine. While we still have a way to go to reach “herd immunity” for COVID-19, we’re certainly on the way.
As we pass the one-year mark of the COVID shut-down, I’m grateful that we are still here as a church family, that we have weathered what appears to be the worst of the storm, and that we are able to anticipate being together sooner rather than later. I find Frederick Buechner’s quote, voicing God’s words to his creation, to be powerfully anchoring as we press on: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”