Not Normal (Yet)
Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” And that kind of sums up where we are in our struggle to return to normal from this global pandemic. Some things are returning to normal but, as it has been for the last fifteen months, “normal” remains a moving target. Even so, things are getting better and as they do, our church is returning to more familiar routines. But even as we move toward the familiar, our routines will be different than they used to be.
What does that mean?
Well, let’s talk about a few of our routines and how they might be different.
- We’re moving back to indoor church. Hooray! But being indoors isn’t going to be exactly like it used to be (yet). We are returning indoors, but we’re still concerned about the spread of COVID, so some things will remain different for a while. Sunday school classes and church committees are returning to in-person meetings, but not all of them. Not everyone feels comfortable meeting in groups and some committee meetings are sometimes more convenient online, so some of those groups will remain online.
We are going to worship indoors, but worship still isn’t going to be the same as it used to be. We are going to take the offering differently, we will be space ourselves out more than we used to, we plan to wear masks when we sing, and some people will likely choose to wear masks all the time.
- The building isn’t how I remember it. We’ve made some changes. Some of them are pandemic related, and some aren’t. Our trustees have not been hibernating for the last year. I’ve mentioned before that there were new lights installed above the stairs by the handicap entrance and in the lounge, but most of you will soon be seeing those changes for the first time so it will look a little different. The trustees have other projects in progress that haven’t happened yet, so you can expect more changes. In part because of COVID and in-part because of security concerns, we just aren’t going to unlock as many doors as we used to. Many of you won’t even notice, but we will put up signs and let you know what’s going on so that we can all get used to entering through the doors that are open.
- Money. Honestly, this one is entirely up to you. To everyone’s credit, last year, our giving remained steady even though we stayed home and made the transition to online worship. But 2021 has not been kind to us. I’m not sure that there is any single reason that can explain it. We got out of the habit of coming to church. We got out of the habit of putting our offering in the plate. We got worried about our personal finances and cut back. It could be any of those, or all of those, or a hundred other things. But our offerings changed. Dramatically. I won’t belabor the point here, because our members will soon be receiving a letter that will go into more details. For now, let’s just say that our budget, our staff, and all sorts of things will be facing substantial changes if 2021 doesn’t start to look more like 2019.
- Dress. I don’t really know. But I suspect that over the last year, many of you have grown accustomed to attending church in your bunny slippers. I’m sure you don’t want to show up half-dressed, but if a year of worshiping online makes you feel like you want to dress more comfortably, I’m pretty sure no one will mind. I’m sure I’ll go back to wearing a suit at some point, but I admit that I rather liked being able to preach wearing denim pants and hiking boots. The important thing is that we all get back in the habit of going to church and being together.
- People. While we were online, we’ve had a few new people begin to worship with us. Even though they have been “in church” with us for months, they will be unfamiliar to most of you. I hope that you will make them feel welcome. If you are one of those folks that joined us online, I hope that will join us in-person even though almost all of us will be unfamiliar to you. At the same time, I’m sure that there are a few folks who just got out of the habit of coming to church and won’t be returning. I hope it isn’t many. And I hope it isn’t you. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. All of us. Together.
I’m sure that’s not all. I’m sure that there are changes I forgot to mention, and others that I haven’t learned about, or that haven’t happened yet. But life is all about change. As we return to in-person, indoor worship, things are going to seem more like normal. But, at the same time, not… quite… normal. Whenever you feel comfortable, I hope that you will return to worship in-person. And, until you do, we are working hard to continue some sort of online worship. Although that may face some changes too.
“It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”
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