For months, the motivation was there. Sure, it went up and down with the events of the day, but the focus was on surviving the big event. The months of taking notes and review sessions before the big exam. The months of training and practice before the big race. The months of reading documents and watching videos before calling the new pastor. The months of phone calls, emails, and online meetings before resuming in-person activities.
Now the exam is turned in, the race is over, the new pastor has arrived, and we are worshipping in the sanctuary again. We did the hard work and now we can step back, take a deep breath, and relax. Right?
In the months ahead, as congregations return to in-person activities we should push back against this desire to relax. The reality is that there is still important work that needs to continue.
Much like experiencing the joy of finishing a class (and rejoicing that I would never need to look at that textbook again), the need for studying, learning, and growing is still there for the next class or meeting or worship service. Similarly, I have celebrated the deep breath after finishing a race, which is then followed by stretching and heading back out for a recovery run.
Even as we return to sanctuaries and fellowship halls, the ministries of our congregations continue. Gardens will still need tending, food pantries will still need stocking, people will still need visiting, and yes worship services will still need to be streamed.
Instead of crossing a finish line by returning to in-person activities, we can borrow an idea from video games and see the line as a “power up” (or more energy) because we “leveled up” (through pandemic adaptations). This is vital going forward since the world still needs to hear and experience the Good News of God’s love and grace.
Worshipping in a sanctuary or gathering for refreshments does not change our call to love one another just as Jesus has loved us. While things are stabilizing and slowly transitioning to a new “normal”, we need to remain committed and engaged with meeting the needs of our neighbors.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever more.
Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois