The Unsilent Church:

Reclaiming the church as a great social justice movement maker

An Advent Experience

Dear friends—

I officially took yesterday off from writing, and I am learning that writing on Sundays doesn’t happen (my little brain just can’t come up with additional wisdom after leading worship!).  But I am back at it today.

Next Sunday is Music Sunday, and it just hit me that this is the first Music Sunday we will have in-person (first ever hybrid) since 2019!  Last year, we went remote in early December because the Omicron variant was beginning to spike.  The same is the case for Christmas Eve.  This is the first Advent that we have had people in the church during worship, and it looks like we might make it through the season.

I think it is a good idea to pause and to reflect on this for a moment.  Covid has been a part of our lives for 3 years now.  This time in 2019, we were just hearing about the cases in China.  I can’t remember what I thought might happen to church back then, but I am certain I had no real understanding of what we were going to experience fully.  On March 13, 2020, we closed the church for “two weeks.”  But in the end, we spent months and months physically separated.  We spent 2+ years without singing in-person together.   We are slowly returning back to many of our beloved traditions, but we will never be the same.  The pandemic has changed us.  It has changed the world, and although it feels wonderful to be coming out of it (fingers crossed!), we have been forever shaped by this experience.  We have lost quite a bit, and we have learned some valuable lessons.  We endured this together, however imperfectly, and our church life now is a beautiful, messy mix of what we were and what we are…does that make sense?

I think we are just beginning to see what our congregational life will be post-pandemic.  We are getting glimpses of what changes might become permanent.  I think we will continue to do most of our business meetings on Zoom.  It is more convenient for many of us.  We will probably continue to have Vespers most weeks…we have a core group of people who love coming together mid-week on Zoom.  We have completely transitioned to hybrid worship, and we are growing much more comfortable with the use of technology in worship.  But there are still many unknowns.  We are really just getting used to singing together again.  (I was surprised how timid we were at first.  It was like we didn’t trust ourselves.)  But how will we reengage with other music, like the choir, and what will our musical leadership look like?  How will Confirmation, OWL, Sunday School and other children and youth programming work in the next months and years?  How will we continue to work on the justice ministries we hold so dear?  There are still lots of questions.

Friends, this is an Advent experience.  We can see bits of the promise of church post-pandemic, and it feels wonderful and a bit foreign.  But we don’t really know what to expect in the long term.  But we trust that God is making a way for us.  I hope we have weathered the worst of this, but whatever that pesky, dangerous virus has in store for us, I am certain that we will not only survive, but thrive.  Because God is good, and we are in this together.







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