This Covid-19 world we live in is filled with all sorts of disappointments both big and small. And moments that make your heart ache. Or moments when your hopes are dashed.
Sunday morning was NOT one of those times for me!
I had been looking forward to this particular Sunday morning for weeks. Honestly – for months. Rally Sunday! I had been hoping big hopes about Rally Sunday. (Not too big – I know Covid-19 has changed the world and the way people feel about coming to church.) I was keeping my hopefulness within the realms of reality. But I was hopeful all the same.
I had been keeping a close eye on the sign-up sheet in the narthex. Each time a new name was added I would smile with relief. People were planning to come. People were willing to participate. People are still willing to be a part of our Christian community.
I am used to being in the church alone. I am used to quiet time with our Lord. I like solitude and time for reflection – but Covid-19 has given me far – far too much alone time in the church . . .
I was longing for some noise caused by someone other than my own children or by me talking to myself. I was hoping for some hustle and bustle. Maybe even a bit of chaos. Or a cacophony. A cacophony would be nice. I hadn’t heard one of those in the fellowship hall in a while. Our Christian community used to be really good at those!
When Jack – Will and I arrived at church hours before the scheduled start of worship – there were cars already parked in the parking lot! The lights were on and not because someone had forgotten to turn them off. The air conditioning was running. There were delicious smells wafting through the air. And best of all there were Lutherans in the church kitchen – the church office – and the fellowship hall!
Saint Stephen was abuzz and I wasn’t even doing any of the buzzing (yet)!
I was grinning from ear to ear from the moment my key hit the lock. There were Lutherans in the church and they beat me here! Whoo-hooo!!! Hallelujah!!! This was glorious and wonderful and awesome and truly a delight for this pastor’s world weary – Covid-19 exhausted soul . . .
Gene and Dolores were hovering over a huge pot on the stove in the kitchen like magicians concocting something glorious to delight our taste buds.
Deb and Marilyn were blurs of activity as they hurried between the ovens and the stoves and the refrigerators preparing a feast for both our stomachs and our souls.
And Pat Markley was in the church office – faithfully cooking the books in preparation for the church council meeting scheduled for later that morning.
It was so much fun. It was like the “good old days.” Like the before times. Those days I took for granted before the pandemic. Before Covid-19 made a mess of our lives. Before staying safe at home was necessary. Before quarantining was commonplace.
And the Lutherans just kept coming and coming and coming. Ellen was next. Followed quickly by Elaine and Grace. Then Marcia and Madelyn. And Connie and Buddy and Barry and Peggy and Kenna and Ella and Cheryl and before I knew it the fellowship hall was full of Lutherans.
It was noisy and amazing. It was almost like the before the pandemic times – of course – there were more masks. But I find masks to be such a small sacrifice (if you can even call them a sacrifice at all) to make for fellowship and conversation and protecting my young sisters and brothers in Christ. I will gladly and happily wear a mask to protect others (even when it fogs up my glasses) – because it is the right thing to do. And while wearing a mask I receive blessings like fellowship – time with people I love – seeing the twinkle in someone’s eyes as they tell me a story – and so much more. So bring on the masks . . . masks are such a small sacrifice to make when others are making much – much bigger sacrifices.
I talked and I talked and visited and caught up.
I heard from William Beckman about his daring exploits on the football field. Will is fearless and terrifyingly brave. Jodi must hold her breath and pray the entire time her precious boy is on the field!
Jason and I swapped stories with the Beckmans about life way up North. I went to seminary in Minneapolis- Saint Paul and my first call was in northern Minnesota – almost to North Dakota. It is fun to swap stories about life where winter starts in October and is so real – you think it might just kill you! Winter here in Kentucky is barely winter at all when I remember winter up there . . .
Jordan shared about life at Seneca and updated me on his class schedule. I think he is taking every freshman honors class Seneca offers! Clearly Jordan is one smart fellow.
Kenna and I chatted about weddings and bishops and extremely conservative Methodist clergy (why yes – our conversation was far-ranging). Ella and I talked shoes.
I heard Marcia and Elaine’s gloriously – awesome – amazing good news. They are going to be GREAT-GRANDMAS in the spring!!!
Deb shared an update on the house she and Duane are building in Wisconsin and I was happy for them and sad for us . . .
I could go on and on and on.
It was so wonderful to be with my church family – moving from table to table and group to group and person to person. Chatting and chattering. Talking and discussing. Listening and learning. Catching up and fellowshipping.
I loved every single minute of it. It was balm for my soul. It was just what I needed and what I had been longing for – for months.
Thanks to masks and vaccines we were able to gather together again. We were able to fellowship and spend time in conversation with our sisters and brothers in Christ. We were able to delight in the blessing of Christian community.
Sunday school started with Rally Sunday at Saint Stephen on Sunday! It was such a gloriously wonderful blessing to see and hear and just be with my sisters and brothers in Christ.
I hope I never take the blessing of community lightly again. I hope I never forget to appreciate the noise and the chaos and cacophony and fun and joy of a Christian family all gathered together.
Because I think we did. Before Covid-19 – we did. Before the pandemic – we took the blessing of our Christian community for granted. We took the ability to gather together for granted. We assumed our church would always be here. That we would always be able to gather together – until we couldn’t . . .