Summertime, and the livin’ is…is…well…it’s weird. As a parent, I’m keenly aware of how I’m trying to make this a good summer break for our daughter, Elora in this time of social distancing. She is an only child and so keeping her connected with peers has required particular intentionality, doing things differently, and some luck. At the beginning of the year, we had the summer planned out, camps were chosen, deposits made, and the meticulous summer schedule that balanced swim team, camps, vacation time and work time was all set. With all of Elora’s activities, connection would happen pretty automatically, and our only child would have ample opportunity to see her friends and make new friends all summer long. Alas, camp wasn’t really in the cards for this summer. Instead, we have relied on scheduling technology driven activities that she can do with her friends via the phone or computer. We are fortunate that there have been some good opportunities for some safe social time and play as well. But it isn’t the same, and doesn’t feel like it is enough…because it isn’t.
Church feels much the same way...we had our churchy plans and now we are having to rethink everything and move our life together online—and it isn’t enough. We miss each other. I have heard many of you sharing this with me, and I know that whenever I run into someone from church when out in the community, I have this deep desire to run up and hug them…and I’m not really a hugger. Recently, someone made the comment to me that perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is not how do we worship with one another, but rather, how do we have fellowship with one another? Now, worship is essential to our way of life together, but so is fellowship. Jesus told us that where two or three are gathered, he would be in the midst of them. I wonder, going forward and as the virus shows no signs of slowing, how we might answer this second question and have real, tangible fellowship with one another that is also safe.
As I have written before, we have a real opportunity to re-create how we are the church—and that’s an incredibly exciting, life-giving, and even scary thing. But going forward with our old plans won’t work anymore and the old ways are passing away and something new will come into place. What will that new thing look like? Where do you think the Spirit is leading us? How can we re-image our life as Church? Whatever comes into being, we will need to be intentional about it, open to new things, and relying on the Spirit to lead us. The virus is going to be with us for a while, and more than ever, we need each other.