Wednesday Word: The First One is in the Books
This past Sunday was our first Sunday with in-person worship since March. In preparation for that service we had to evaluate and plan for a variety of issues, which, thanks to the hard work of the Parish Reopening Committee, were well-put together. Everything from which doors shall we open to a reservation system to ensuring extra masks were available to cordoning off pews and removing books was discussed and planned for.
We made plans for an August 2 restart and all seemed in place. I thought last week was the storm before the calm (as I wrote in the last Wednesday Word), where everything was a beehive of activity and stress seemed to increase as we prepared to have people in church again. But even with all of that, I did manage to get a good night's sleep on Saturday.
Then Sunday came and there wasn't much calmness. I was hoping that Sunday morning would sound a little like the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter – somewhat slow, a little jazzy, and very comfortable. Instead it was more like The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy – fast, loud, rambunctious, and slightly out of control.
By 9:05 I was already exhausted, but everything that needed to be done was done and the only thing left to do was to take some time, relax, and stand over the A/C vent to cool off. By the time we got to 9:30, we were ready to worship. And we did and it was glorious.
As Dcn. Sue and I made our way from the High Altar to our seats I was overwhelmed with joy at seeing all of the people in the pews. As we made our way through the liturgy, it was both thrilling and comforting to hear the congregational responses. I was reminded of how different it is to preach with a church full of people as opposed to preaching to a camera. And being able to administer Communion, the Body of Christ, to people who had not received that blessed Sacrament for close to five months, was a truly special moment.
Just like those first few Sundays of online-only worship were stressful and different but settled into a routine, these first few Sundays of limited in-person worship will also be stressful and different; but they will also be good as we come together to the best of our ability and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again: despite everything going on in the world around us, and despite having to continually adjust to this new way of being, there is no other place I'd rather be going through all of this than right here with the people of Saint John's.
As we move forward, let us continue to remain calm, connected, and church. Let us worship together both with our limited in-person presence and unlimited online presence. And let us continue to work to spread the light and joy of Sunday morning to the world around us.