This has been such a long season of restrictions and inconveniences. When this pandemic first hit, none of us believed that it might go on for more than 18 months. Now that it has, I am still not sure I can see an end to this thing. Certainly, things are better than they were six months ago, but with the announcement of this new strain, and the mandates and restrictions that continue to be in place, one thing is painfully clear: we are not out of this yet – and the day when it will all finally be over is impossible to predict.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish we could just go back to the way things were before the pandemic?” How many times have you felt that, or something similar? Well, before we get lost and dismayed by that thought, let me remind you of a few things that have come about, not in spite of the pandemic, but because of it.
Prior to the pandemic we had made several attempts to get reliable internet at our church building. We were told it would cost thousands of dollars to get a connection to us due to our outdated infrastructure. With the “Stay at Home” order upon us, and the need for so many churches to live stream, the ISP did not want to be seen denying service to a church in the midst of a pandemic. Suddenly, they gave us the connection we needed, and for free! Blessing number one: a reliable fiber optic connection. Before the pandemic, we had never live streamed our services. Now we do it every week. Blessing number two: a live digital connection with people anywhere. Now those far from us can record prayers, communion meditations, and scripture readings to share during our live stream. People all over the world can be part of our worship experience together. Blessing number three: more voices sharing our common bond of faith. Also, while watching from home, our children started sharing their memory verse via video with angelic voices and sweet smiles in ways that have touched and encouraged us all. Can you say, “Hi church . . . bye church!” without smiling? Blessing number four: our kids encourage us and hopefully feel more like a vital part of the body.
Thanks again, pandemic, for ushering in additional blessings. We’ve had a drive-through graduation, a drive-through baby shower, and Donut Sundays. We’ve had walk-through Trunk or Treats, Family Advent and Easter experiences outdoors. These are all blessings that the pandemic brought to us by stretching our creativity and showing us how to celebrate and shine in spite of restrictions and isolation.
Through all of this, God has been faithful. We have learned to adapt and make things work in new ways. Many of these newfound habits and practices will stick with us, making our faith life together richer and our witness in the world more effective. I could go on with other blessings that have come out of this trial, but I will leave that reflection to you. Take some time this week, or perhaps over lunch today, to talk with your friends and family about how God has continued to be with us in this time of pandemic and trial. He is making good things come out of hard days. Reflect on that and be grateful.
Emmanuel: God is with us.