Churches everywhere are feeling stressed by restrictions on their activities. At every meeting we ask the question, “How can we do this in a way that keeps people safe from the pandemic and preserves the trust of our community?”
COVID-19 is costing us a lot—from lost economic opportunity to loneliness to decreased mental health. But we are getting something for all that we pay. One thing that we gain, that delights me very much, is this: Sunday worship has become a privilege to vie for instead of a pattern to be borne.
We at Streetlight do not feel confident yet to restore the second service, so each Sunday we are forced to make choices: yes, you can come but you may not. We must take turns to worship. And only a small number can ride the bus at one time.
I have never experienced such disappointment at telling someone, “You may not come to church today;” nor have I seen such excitement when someone is told, “You may come to church.” We see similar reactions at our weekly programs such as adult Bible study and
children and youth events.
When I was in seminary the professor who taught us how to preach was fond of saying, “Worship is the best show in town!” He said it in a somewhat longing way as if to say, if only more people felt that way.
Well, now they do. After being shut out of public worship for three months, people long to
- experience the power of coming into the presence of God,
- feel the pain of healing when their sins are exposed, and they repent,
- find comfort in the forgiving grace of Jesus,
- respond to God with song, confession, and prayer, and
- enjoy the community of people to whom they belong.
In some ways we’ve gotten an excellent return for the cost that our community is paying.
By Pastor Paul Aasman