It is difficult to believe that we have been living with a pandemic for an entire year now. I spent those first few days rethinking how I would spend my Sabbath day. Before the pandemic, I often went to the movies or had lunch at Barnes and Noble, sampling a book or two while I enjoyed a cup of hot tea. I stopped by the grocery store a couple of times a week, usually on the way home from the office. Tucker went to doggy daycare twice each week, playing with his own group of friends.
Like many of you, I didn’t really have time to prepare for those first couple of weeks. As the Governor’s first order was issued, I was still trying to figure out what I needed to make it through the rest of March. I spoke with my sister and niece, who were both physicians. They had been reassigned from their regular clinics to help out with persons who needed to be hospitalized. We prayed for one another constantly as PPE supplies quickly became unavailable.
Grocery shopping changed the most. Those first few weeks, I bought what I could, though most of the basic items I needed were gone. The store I usually shopped at implemented social distancing and mask rules. Shoppers had to wait in line to enter and each aisle became a one-way route.
That first Sunday, as many churches were announcing that they were suspending in person worship, I hoped that a few churches were already streaming services online. Some were. I remember speaking with my brother-in-law and we agreed to tune into Olivet Baptist Church’s service on that first Sunday morning. And even though we were separated by two states, we worshiped together.
I have enjoyed participating in worship services throughout our District and across the state during the past year. I have found comfort, inspiration, compassion, and understanding about our shared experience. Some pastors have given voice to our fear, frustration, and futility that so much of who we are and what we do has been placed on hold. Other pastors have shared where we are, while simultaneously asking us to focus on our dedication to our mission.
We have been on this journey long enough to be able to look back over the last 12 months. God has been with us and will continue to be with us on this journey. We have come this far by faith, acknowledging that there is a new normal taking shape in our lives, our communities, and even our places of worship. Whether in person or online, worship is essential for our relationship with our Lord. Church, in all its forms, is where my struggles are voiced and valued, where my soul is nourished and encouraged, where my energy is refreshed and revitalized, and where my strength is reborn and resurrected.
I offer you this gospel hymn for the days to come. Know that the Lord isn’t through with any of us yet. And Amen.
Donnie McClurkin sings “We Come This far by Faith”