As I write these reflections, my arm is throbbing from my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. It has been a year, since COVID-19 shifted the Church’s mission to online worship—a year of contending with masks, social-distancing, sheltering-in-place, and increased travel and business constrictions. A year ago, most of us never had our groceries delivered or brought out to our cars. With the roll-out of vaccines, which several of us have now received, there is the promise of life getting back to normal, albeit a new normal. Things are not quite the way they were.

As our County numbers for COVID-19 decline, we are busy making plans for in-person worship (Starting March 7). I am excited about the prospect of gathering once more with you all, even as I grieve the elements of the communal life that are still off limits to us— coffee hour, congregational singing, holding hands and hugging one another hello. Our Palm Dinners continue as to-go meals, meeting a need for those who need a meal, but without the robust hospitality and fellowship which happens when we gather around a table. These things will follow at some point, but for the moment I am happy for the opportunity to just be together.

Throughout this pandemic, the question I keep asking our Church Council and asking the church is this: What kind of Church do you want to go back to? It is an important question to consider. COVID-19 has put certain restrictions on how we gather, but we alone get to decide to be the kind of church we want to be. What does it mean for us to be the church in Klamath Falls in this season? How will we deepen our connection with one another? How can we promote healthy community and heal the deep wounds we carry? How will we stand for justice and the hurting and vulnerable in our neighborhoods and city? What are the practices we can do which will nourish faith in God in this season?

None of these questions are new. These are the sorts of things the church has always wrestled with as it has sought to live out the message and mission of Jesus Christ in every place and in every age. But perhaps the gift of the Corona-virus closures has been its interruption of business-as-usual. We get to decide whether we want to tenaciously cling to our misty watercolor memories of the way we were or to press on together toward becoming all we can be as a church. I for one, am excited about what God has in store for us together in the days ahead!

Pastor James