During a time of worldwide pandemic, we continue to gather from many locations. Though currently separated, we are also together in new ways. This reminds us that church is not a building. “Church” never was a building. It is the Beloved Community that gathers in hope and strength from house to house, circle to circle, or prayer to prayer.
This global struggle has taught us in new ways that church is not a building. It is the gathering itself — within, without, and beyond the walls.
Currently, church is the virtual gathering we create and recreate while we are, out of necessity, also recreating ourselves anew.
Our phones and computers now house us in our virtual sacred space. Thankfully, technology allows us to be together, to hear one another’s voices, and to see the beauty in one another’s faces. Even so, I miss your physical presence, your energy in the “real” room, and the chance to talk with you face to face at our Gatherings, and at our boardroom table in the Meeting House.
Prior to our separation due to Covid-19, each week upon receiving the offering, I would say: “Thank you for these gifts and for all the gifts you offer this community. Thank you most of all for the gift of your presence here today.” This gratitude holds true for your virtual presence as well. Thank you for logging in, clicking on that Zoom link, and joining us for one of the many opportunities for connection right now: Mindfulness Mondays, Thankful Thursdays, Coffee Hour Zooms, RE time, Choir fellowships, and of course, our Sunday morning services.
So, here we are — gathered in the most unexpected of ways for the most unexpected of reasons. We remain closed for now, and perhaps for a significant amount of time, out of necessity, because we know that social distancing will save lives.
What will life look like, what will church look like after the time of Covid-19? The short answer is that we don’t have all the answers right now. As I mention in my homily this week, we are bound only by the limits of our own imaginations; thus, we are not bound at all.
We will build a new way. When it is safe, we will return to our buildings, our churches, our fellowships. We may also become the online church as never before — the barefoot church, the church of the pajamas. We will grow and learn and adapt to save lives and to thrive in new ways because of a virus we never saw coming.
Our mission may remain the same: to nurture spirits, to cherish diversity, to cultivate justice, and to radiate love. Our mission may also change over time. Perhaps, we’ll have more chalice circles in the fall because time and travel will no longer be a factor for some (if one or more take place online).
For now, we are working hard to provide weekly opportunities for real-time connection and a service we hope is lifting your spirits. I am beyond grateful to Kaarin for her work of piecing together all the parts of our service so beautifully and professionally each week and to our many musicians who have been so kind as to share their gifts online. I’m grateful to our staff and board for their “usual” behind the scenes work and support, and I’m grateful to Holly, our intern, for her contributions during what has turned out to be a very unusual internship for her.
Together, we will continue to direct our energies, our prayers, our offerings, and our gifts of love and service to one another in order to sustain our spirits but also to sustain our church home.
With love and devotion to our church in all its manifestations,
~Rev. Mary Frances