Reopening In Person Worship
Our long lockdown is almost over! It has been a national and global nightmare that has affected every person and every institution in one way or another. Difficult choices have had to be made and each of us is living differently than we did before. The good thing is that we have a chance to choose to be different, a chance to start over.
Since March, we at All Saints have learned to pray, share fellowship and study together online and we have discovered that we will probably want to continue this practice that helps build community for those both near and far.
We have learned to discuss scripture and sacred texts together each week. These discussions have deepened our understanding as well as strengthened the bonds of our community through soulful sharing and insight. We have joined in studies of racism and other cultural forces that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.
I am reminded of what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman regarding worship. Basically, Jesus says, it doesn’t matter if you worship on this mountain or that mountain, what matters is that you worship in spirit and in truth. This seems to be one of the lessons we have learned during this lockdown...
Nevertheless, there is something about the sacred space of church that calls to us. We are a sacramental church, meaning that we see the sacred infused and intwined in the ordinary material world. Objects carry meaning, buildings represent spirit, the human contains the divine, events disclose sacred history. The baptismal water bespeaks new life. The bread and the wine carry the body and blood of Christ and unite us into a community in the eucharistic meal. The altar reminds us what it means to sacrifice one’s interest to save others and so on and so forth.
We know that this reopening will raise lots of questions and feelings. It will remind us of the good old days, but it will be different. People will register upon arrival in order to allow contact tracing. People will need to wear masks throughout the service. There will be music but not a choir or hymns. There will be no physical contact at the Peace and people will need to keep their distance in the pews. Communion will only be distributed in one kind (the host, not the chalice) and there will be no coffee hour afterwards. For some it will just plain feel strange, for others it may will be a sign of deliverance. We won’t know until we try.
No doubt, for a variety of reasons, some will want to stay with the Zoom services which will remain at 11:00 AM. Others will want to venture out and see what it’s like to worship in person at 9:30 AM beginning Sunday, September 27th. We expect that we will learn a lot in the first few weeks and we will be alert to making adjustments to the new situation as we gain experience of what works and what doesn’t work.
We want to start small and build up a new church that is creative, intimate, dynamic and faithful. We want to take what we have learned and use it to invite new seekers into this household of faith. We want to preserve the best of our tradition, but also be able to critique and tweak our common and liturgical life, so that All Saints becomes more and more attractive to a new generation of those sojourning to find and serve Christ in this progressively polarized world.