I wrote this last year but find it’s relevance today, as we’ve travelled down this pandemic road for a year and some months now and once again welcome signs are hung out and doors begin to open for business.
It’s a strange world we live in presently and just easing out of lockdown and shutdown and isolation, we’re a bit still in shock and recovery mode. Nerves are frayed and some are shattered. It’s a fine line to choose how to get back into the swing of things, still keeping all safety precautions and guidelines intact. Many opinions shed a different light on the subject and yeah, some say this whole pandemic thing could be just a conspiracy, a hoax and some form of government manipulation, but, the thing is, there’s some kind of a vicious Coronona virus bug creeping around out there, lurking in droplets of the affected, affecting the lungs and the breathing of the most vulnerable and it’s taking people down a hard road and sadly many to their death. Now, how it got here, no one knows for sure and why it’s here, no one knows for sure, but it seems it is what it is, and it is real. Ask our front line workers in the health care system who have experienced mental exhaustion and worked their fingers to the bone, administering oxygen to the needy and being there for the dying when family and friends couldn’t be. Or ask someone who actually came face to face with this monstrous bug and lived through its gruesome diagnosis and recovery! It’s not pleasant and we really don’t want it.
So, we’ve successfully managed phase 1 of opening slowly and here we go, still quite in recovery mode, but still very eager to enter phase 2 of opening. It’s all good! It’s delightful to see patios set up with open umbrellas welcoming visitors for dine out rather than take out. Some stores are hanging out welcome signs to invite the public in once again, to share in some in some old fashioned socialization. It’s also a relief to see their cleanliness and strict, safety precautions as they carefully follow guidelines laid out by the health care advisors and our government. Failure to follow them carefully will give this nasty bug a foot in the door to begin another wave of disaster. The vaccine is here to help but it’s so new, so different and so untested that many refuse it and maybe rightly so! Each one has to be their own keeper and listen carefully to their heart on such matters. It’s not our duty to force it one way or another but it is our duty to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe?
Yesterday, traffic was heavy and roads were busy with frantic people sharing their enthusiasm for places to visit and things to do. Three months of Isolation shut down and quarantine with an economic nosedive, have been pretty hard-hitting and worldwide closures, of shopping, travel, fine dining, and sports just too much for an affluent society and culture, such as ours to manage wisely!
Now, effective, places of worship can open their doors once again and yeah, we may have thought, Christians were under persecution! Well, we’re not, at least not yet! It’s wonderful isn’t it, to know that once again we can enter our buildings of worship, free from that fear for now.
So, church doors are open and meeting together is possible once again but let’s remember, it won’t be the same as it was before, because not everyone handles the isolation of a pandemic, the vaccination and a re-opening of shutdown in the same manner and on the same level. Greeters will greet, not with friendly smiles so much as with point-blank questions about temperatures, travel and contacts, as they hand out masks to some who might not want to oblige. Some might be turned away because of restrictions. Seating arrangements will be different and that favourite seat once so comfy, might not be there anymore. Some may forget social distancing and come rushing over for a hug, without a mask and some might be more cautious than their enthusiastic friends and family choosing to be illusive. Don’t take it personally.
So, when the doors are open, what’s expected of worshippers? Some think it’s too soon, while others think it should have happened a month ago. How do we balance out, our fears, our guilt, our own healing and our expectations on all fronts as well as refraining to let what others think, dictate our next move?
At such a time as this, and above all, beautiful soul, do what you feel is right for you! If you choose to enter into the heart of worship, take care to bring to mind the ‘soul’ reason for entering is to “worship”, not criticize or socialize. Physical distancing from others is an important part of our recovery phase 2 to keep others safe and …. let’s be kind, as we enter those worship doors to take our places, refraining to cast aspersions and judgemental eyes on the “No shows” to so quickly size them up.
Open worship doors may subject some to guilt, if for them, recovery is still quite raw and the timing isn’t quite right to participate. Let’s not judge and make enemies because some might not ride the tide as we do. Patience and friendship will do more for gathering the resistant than critical, cynical thinking!
COVID 19 is a real threat and maybe nerves are still locked up and fears are real and difficult to come down from after a year and some months of lockdown, isolation and quarantine. Remember, recovery takes time and everyone runs on their own healing timeline!
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and, a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
So, to keep it relevant for today and this hour, there is a time for each one to make their own decision on how to enter into phase 2 and move on in their own timeline of recovery that God has for them. Give them the freedom to be who they are without pressure to perform to higher expectations.