February marks the twelfth month since we have been dealing with the fallout of the Coronavirus as a country. It was mid-March, and midway through the season of Lent, when we first went into lockdown. One of the things we’ve mourned during the last year, are the ways in which we have not been able to be physically present with the people we love. We have been stuck at home, or had our travel restricted, we have been discouraged from group gatherings, and we have not been able to gather inside the church building for worship. I felt the loss of congregation throughout this year, but especially during the Advent and Christmas season. That is such a joyful and hope-filled season in the life of the Church, and it was hard not to be with you all!
Here we are, almost a year later, getting ready to begin Lent again. With the vaccines rolling out, I have renewed hope that we will be together in the not-too-distant future! Hopefully Lent will give way to Easter hope, and we will gather to celebrate Resurrection (Christ’s and ours!). I can’t set a date on it, but I know we are getting closer! And I can’t wait! I am grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to connect with one another online, or on the phone, but there is nothing quite like being together! And like you, I can’t wait for the life to get back to normal!
Of course, the new normal will be different. When we are first back in worship together, we will have to wear masks and socially distance (like we did when we gathered for worship outside in October), but we also have an opportunity to go back to something new.
We have been in a long season of social deprivation. I am mindful that Lent is a season of fasting, and when we fast (from food or from an activity), it enables us to see the things we are hungry for. As we dream about being together as a church again, what are the things you have been missing that you want to get back to? What are the things that you have grown hungry for as you’ve waited out this virus at home? What new direction do you feel the Spirit moving?
Jesus once told his disciples that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church (Matthew 16:18). We have been through a hard season together and many of us wonder what the future holds. But the Christian story is always one of resurrection and new life. Let’s press on together, knowing that God has good things in store for us!