It’s true, I want to go to church. Not the new social distanced, CDC guidelines church. I want to go and sit among my people, singing worship songs that stir the heart to lift my eyes to the heavens, hands raised, the Spirit moving in and around all who are there, worshipping the Almighty God. I want to feel the love from people I’ve known for years. People who have walked with us in this journey with God. People who I’ve knelt at the altar with, hands clasped together, tears dropping on the carpeted steps as we pray together over heart issues, brokenness, sickness or just for a fresh touch from the Savior. I want to sit and listen to the pastor, called by God, share the Word and the message God has given him for us. I want to mingle with my people, hugging them, holding hands, touching faces, smiling and laughing and just generally enjoying a warm fuzzy from all the love! It’s been five months since I have sat with these people. We’ve all tried to stay connected, but it has been more difficult than we anticipated. Heck, harder than we could have imagined, because we never would have imagined this forced isolation.
Last Sunday, I went to church with my daughter and her husband. They attend another church that has been having in person services for weeks. They had a staff member that had Covid19, but it was contained and he had not been around any other staff and he quarantined for the two weeks. Anyway, as I entered, staff and volunteers wore masks, but people were happy and talking and laughing. We were directed to a row of chairs that were social distanced, as directed by the CDC guidelines. People removed their mask as they settled into their seats. When the music began to worship. It was so sweet and genuine and heartfelt. This wasn’t my church, but these people were still my people. They longed for gathering together, just like me. They needed this corporate worship, just like me. They needed to sit among their people, just like me. Suddenly, the craziness of the outside world began to slip away. At first, I truly struggled to sing out. I was trying to soak it all in. It was almost difficult to relax and really allow myself to worship. I closed my eyes and allowed my other senses to absorb it all. And then it happened, I sang out! The wall around me collapsed. The cloud of frustration, of anxiousness, of the continuous onslaught of media, it all slipped away. I found myself smiling for no apparent reason. Soon the pastor stood before us and shared the Word. I was still smiling during the entire sermon. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but I truly did not care. I was sitting among my people. I only knew about eight people in the room, five of which were my family, but I was with my people. People who are believers. People who put their faith in God. People who are family because of their faith. People who, just like me, need to gather together and worship. I was still smiling when we left. I hugged my daughter and her husband and headed home…..still smiling. I was so happy. I felt like I could breath.
I believe that many of us feel like this. Like we are holding our breath. No way did we ever imagine the first time we heard Coronavirus or Covid19, that our churches would be closed down for five months and counting. aWe has no clue that we did would be controlled by outside sources telling us how we could do church. That a virus would create such a sense of fear, we would willingly back away from meeting together, from hugging, from standing any closer than six feet to each other. Five months. Can you even wrap your head around that for just a moment. During these five months we’ve seen through our tv, computer or phone screens, things happening across our nation that have just piled on the fear. Racial unrest, rioting, protesting, looting, violence, mudslinging, politicians stirring the pot, media reporting and lying to us, all causing division and fear right and left. When normally we could stand in a room together as believers and hear truth spoken, bowing and praying together for wisdom and strength and healing, now we are scattered. We all have tried desperately to stay connected through livestream and Zoom. It is so hard. People with small children find it difficult to try and experience worship this way. Too many distractions. Teens are drifting away and choosing not to join Zoom gatherings. Adults who haven’t gathered are trying to stay faithful, but are finding other things to do on Sunday mornings with their families. I wonder, if we are ever able to gather together again as a church, will there even be that many people who will gather? Five months is twenty Sunday’s with no church. My aunt once told me it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So will it take only 21 Sundays for people to form new habits and not make church a priority anymore?
I don’t want this to sound like church is the most important thing. Because I know that the most important thing is God and serving Him, and sharing the the gospel whether we are able to attend church or not. But we humans are needy and we need to be with our people and not isolated. I trust God. I know He’s using this for His glory. We just have to remain faithful to Him. I just don’t want to be trusting people who have their own agenda and who will manipulate people, even an entire nation, to be able to control them. With all the unrest and division, the time we need to gather the most to find strength and encouragement has been taken away.
So. I will continue to pray. I will continue to watch livestream from our church. I will continue to Zoom with our Lifegroup. I will continue to study His Word. And, I will go to church with my daughter and her husband on Sunday mornings.