I am hoping that this Fall we are returning to the routine of in-person church. I’m not sure if it’s true for you, but I think I took Sunday mornings and what happened in worship for granted. During the worst part of the pandemic, I missed the singing the most. Zoom is not really good for blending voices unless you have a special earpiece that takes care of the auditory feedback which occurs.
And of course, online fellowship, in the chat section, isn’t quite the same. I couldn’t see the people I was speaking with. There was no time to have that casual conversation before or after the service to ask how family members were doing or sharing the latest prayer needs or reasons to celebrate.
I believe not sharing Holy Communion was one of those things I missed the most. I think I had taken the importance of breaking bread and lifting the cup together for granted.
Over the past couple weeks, I have enjoyed sitting in a pew and really looking around the Sanctuary. In a way, I am reacquainting myself with all those elements I didn’t see for a long time. The vestments were the first thing that caught my eye. The color of the season is green, but the different styles that I see reflect, not only the church year but the faith community’s heritage. Some have been homemade by members, others donated to honor or remember a beloved member of the family of faith.
Throughout the year, the vestments change to reflect the journey through our Christian seasons, from Advent, through Lent, from Easter to Pentecost, and Kingdom Time. Other elements around the altar also change. Churches that offer Vacation Bible School will use thematic materials to introduce the story of Jesus to our Lord’s youngest children. Candles are lighted to symbolize the light of Jesus entering into our world and our lives at the beginning of each service. At the close of worship, that same light is carried back into the world.
Almost in every service I attend, my eyes are drawn to the Sanctuary lamp, the light which never goes out. Its presence reminds us that God’s light is everlasting. And even when we couldn’t attend church in person, these lights still shone in each of our worship spaces.
Each time we see the lamp, we have God’s blessed assurance that He is with us at all times, to dispel the darkness which surrounds us. This one light is a beacon for who we are and whose we are. And yet, because it is always there, I wonder if we have overlooked the importance of the lamp, rather than celebrating that God’s light has never dimmed in us. I hope that as we return to worshipping in the same place together, we take time to see the lamp which burned for us while we were away, and that somehow shines brighter now that we are returning. And Amen.