a resource for this time of COVID-19 social distancing
by the Rev. Bruce W. Gray
This year, Holy Week and Easter were experienced by many people in a new and unique way, as churches in many parts of the world were closed to limit the spread of COVID-19. As many have already said, the best way Christians could love their neighbors, as both Jesus and the prophets before him instructed, would be to stay home. This dynamic continues today, and the best ethical practice remains the same-stay home for the sake of the wider world.
So Holy Family has been working hard to create and share meaningful worship without being in the church, and with all the leaders and participants being at their homes. So rather than worrying about whether the temperature in the church is comfortable and the bathrooms are clean before a Sunday service, I watch the weather forecasts for the week so that I can plan to record my portions of the service on a pretty day outside. I still am responsible for making sure the bathrooms are clean, but just at my house.
What has been surprising to me each Sunday, as I sit at home experiencing the prerecorded service, is who many people are participating in this way. Some Sundays there have been as many people who watched on YouTube or Facebook as we have had in attendance in person in past years. That makes me want to do my best with worship all the more, but also gives me a sense of hope that the Grinch called COVA-19 has not been able to steal people's connection to God, to take away our faith, hope, and love (to quote 1 Corinthians 13), nor separate us from our fellow human beings, particularly those in need. Instead, many people are taking these very different times as a chance to live in very different ways, choosing to spend our time of necessary distance to develop intentional and deep ways of connecting with both strangers and people close to us.
So COVID-19 did not steal Easter, and it cannot steal our identities of beloved children of God, who continue to be loved deeply by the one who conquered death on Easter through the Resurrection, and continues to offer to everyone new life, new hope, and new meaning even in times that feel chaotic. We are people of the Resurrection, and are called to live that reality in our actions, words, and perspectives, with generosity and joy given by God.
By the Rev. Cathy Gray
I’ve been taking extra long walks in our neighborhood this week - right along with several other locals, all of them feeling the pressures of being house-bound by a combination of Covid 19 and sloshing rain.
I miss people - family living outside my household, and friends. I miss the vibrancy of being in church - the unique energy that slides from silence to song and back again , seamlessly. I miss standing near someone whose life is fully unlike my own...but there we are, praying together in one voice - or in common silence. I miss stretching out my hands to receive that little taste of Bread - something so commonplace that it’s significance can be easily missed. I miss the passing of the Peace and I miss the exhortation to “Go into the world in peace” - reminding me that the nurture and courage we are granted in worship comes with a calling to take God into the world with us, to hold it all like a shiny penny or a new joy - a thing begging to be shared.
But, do you know what I don’t miss? I don’t miss God. I don’t miss God because, once we know what we’re seeking, God is impossible to miss. She sings through the tree branches, just beginning to bud, quivering lightly on a gust of wind. She conducts the chorus of birds - singing robins and cardinals and sparrows and hawks - into a delightful harmony (or, to an ear more sharply tuned than mine, maybe into a delightful mis-harmony!). The tweets and the twitters and the chirps, the squealing announcement of prey spotted, the flutter of wings and the sudden surprise of an expansive swoop - all those things remind me that all is well in the world - even in this time when, clearly, not all in the world is well.
I love the feeling of solid ground under my feet; I love the feeling cool, damp air on my face. I love the morning sun and the blue of the morning sky, and the sweep of gray clouds, portending an afternoon rain. I love the greetings of neighbors (at a six-foot distance) who, like myself, would rather live outside the walls and breathe the air come fresh from heaven.
So, I don’t miss God. God’s wind-breath of creation, Ruach, surrounds me, swirls through me, lifts me up. It’s pretty much impossible to miss this God who refuses to leave us, this God whose delight in us is boundless, and whose love for us is endless.
Be well, dear people, and, please, don’t let yourself miss God!