Response #13 | May 20 | Patience and Preparation for In-person Worship
Hello beloved of God across the Episcopal Church in Delaware,
My friends, I really can’t wait for churches to gather again in wide open public worship. I am eager to see you all, to share bread and wine and baptism and confirmation, to pour a cup of thick church coffee (you know the kind I mean) and hear your stories about this ridiculously difficult time. I can’t wait to talk face-to-face about how powerful the love of God is in transforming this world and what excites you about Jesus Christ. That’s why I took this job! Selfishly, I’m tired of preaching into a camera lens, I want to see pews full of folks who groan with me at my lousy jokes.
But, I remain patient, understanding that we all have longer to wait and prepare. The season for wide open in-person public worship is still a long way away. This will surprise some of us. After all, on Monday, Governor Carney modified the state of emergency order to give churches and other faith communities the option to begin offering in-person worship again under proper protocols for good public health. (A copy of the guidelines, entitled Guidance for Communities of Worship, can be found at delaware.church on the COVID-19 Response page.)
Does this mean we can regather soon? Not exactly. When you read the requirements, you’ll see the pandemic is far from over, and getting together at church in the near future will not be anything like what we all envision worshipping together to really mean.
As Christians, it is not enough for us to merely be in the same building at the same time, even with the best health protocols in place. When we talk about having church, we want to ensure we are as inviting and hospitable and inclusive as possible. We expect worship that will focus our hearts on the love, hope, and mercy of the living God. Happily, more help is on the way. In just two weeks, right as ‘Phase 1’ of our recovery is expected to begin (see my update #12 from last week), our ‘new normal’ task force is expected to publish guidelines for helping us all properly plan to regather physically, when the right time comes.
So, let us continue to be patient, and steadfast in our trust that Christ is fully present among us. Waiting is not the most exciting thing to do, I admit, but it is potentially transformative. This word from St. Paul, writing to the church in Galatia, comes to mind. “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.”