“Are you ready for your return from vacation?” asked one of our beloved members, as we prepare to try regular Sunday services again. “You have got to be kidding!!” was my response.
We’re now into our eighth month of recorded services, and Zoom meetings, and trying to find a different way of doing everything. We had just given up our postal permit when this hit. It has been a major challenge.
But looking into that rear view mirror – the one I’m always referring to - this has not been all bad. In fact, it has gotten the creative juices working, sometimes with moments of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I feel really good about the number of people we have been able to involve in our video services, regathering efforts, centennial celebration efforts, and just the routine functions of being a church – maintaining the building and grounds, keeping the church clean and tidy, keeping fresh flowers on the altar, providing great music (Joe and James), and I could go on and on. I’ve been so impressed by the number of people who have just made things happen. And there are people like Buddy Pate who barely knew Epiphany, but stepped in with his passion for filming and editing and organizing. And John Moscoe, who has worked so hard at communication and keeping a “closed office” functioning, and two Clergy on track.
We’re still working on trying some new things. Very shortly we will conduct a memorial service for Janet Fisher, Jim’s mother. We will strictly follow the attendance limitations and all of the safety procedures. But in order to do that, parts of the service are being prerecorded. Family members will attend by Zoom and contribute remembrances by Zoom, on a screen in the church. Who would have thought? It will be very different, but very nice. We’re working hard on plans for Christmas Eve. More on that later, but it will be very different and very special. I still haven’t figured out how to do a virtual Thanksgiving Service and meal. There may be a turkey or two spared in that one.
I’ve always seen my ministry at Epiphany, not as building numbers, but building community. From the phone calls I get and the comments I hear, “the community” has held, and perhaps strengthened. I don’t think any of us will ever take our corporate worship for granted after this. I think we’ve gained a sense of the value of our community and the need for corporate worship that is a little stronger than it was.
This pandemic has been a horrible thing for many, many people. It will be rehearsed for generations to come. Our grandchildren will know about it. Pictures of us in our masks will go into history books. In the meantime, we will work to keep the symbols of our faith alive and our community strong. And may we find new ways to worship our God in this strange land.