Yes, we are getting weary of this pandemic. I think that most of us think about what we’ve lost during this past year: personal contact, going out, get-togethers, in-person worship, even, sadly, our own health and the presence of loved ones we’ve lost. Who even thought that “in-person worship” was a thing?
But I want to share something that we, in the church, have gained through this crisis. Many of you experienced it last Sunday at our Zoom worship service. That was the participation of so many people in that service. I do not think that we would normally have that kind of participation in a live service held inside the church building.
What happened on Sunday that was so special? The highlight was the children Elizabeth, Sharon, and Sophia (in alphabetical order). They not only read the Bible lessons; they shared in reading the Prayers of the People and even added their own beautiful concluding prayer. Thanks to Erika and Kara Shay, and thanks to the girls’ own talents and evident love for the church, these moments of prayerful participation were absolutely inspiring. If you want to know what the future of the church looks like, you saw it on Sunday.
And there was the music. This one single worship service featured a string quartet prelude by the Yeohs, Ally, William, Lizzy, and Jamie, that focused our thoughts on the worship time to come. Beautiful. That was followed by the earthly-angelic choir singing the opening hymn. Later the choir lifted up their voices in other hymns sang in the sanctuary, and we were able to see and hear our choir’s magnificent voices even as we were not able to be in their presence. Thanks to Michael and Joshua, the widely-acclaimed music ministry of St. Barnabas continues even through this fraught time of mask-wearing and social distancing and isolation that would deter any choir.
When we thought we had everything, the Bell Choir, under the leadership of Janet Beckmeyer, ravished us (can I say that?) with their beautiful rendition of “God of Our Fathers.” I never thought I really liked that hymn until then!
And finally, you showed us a congregation of prayer. There are many people who need prayer, and to the list of those we have heard about during the week, you on Zoom added others—many others. And in those moments, I felt that we were truly connected in prayer to one another. There is no doubt that God heard our prayers and blessed them.
Children, strings, bells, choir, shared prayers—all in a single hour of worship. It was special, and we all knew it.
As we begin moving towards a new future in the church, post-pandemic and post-search, I hope that we can keep in mind the joy of this past Sunday’s worship service. The word “liturgy” (church-speak, remember?) means “the work of the people.” In the Anglican tradition, you have priests as your spiritual leader, but your liturgy last Sunday truly reflected the work of the people—all of them. This is one consequence of the pandemic that I really hope we hold onto, even as we leave the nasty little germs behind us.
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation!