Wowzers! What a week!
I think I’ve expressed this sentiment at least once a month for the last year or so. It seems like just when I think I know how to operate, some change comes that upends some aspect of my plan. The challenge for me is to see these changes as Spirit-led movements that continue to draw us closer to God.
The most recent of those changes came last Thursday when the CDC made their announcement about no longer recommending masks in a variety of situations for those who are fully vaccinated. While this may have been exciting news, I have to admit, my heart skipped about 4 beats because not 4 hours before the CDC announcement, I had published a rather lengthy FAQ on this very website about what worship was going to look like at St. Peter’s for the summer. I believe the phrase is, “Man plans. God laughs.” Incidentally, look for an updated version of this FAQ to be published next week. Such a monumental announcement necessitates ample time for study and conversation.
Some of our beloved Pentecost hymns speak of the breath of the Spirit as a wind that fans the flames of the church. We sing, “Spirit, Spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness calling and free…stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.” We also sing of the “God of tempest, God of whirlwind…drive us out from sheltered comfort; past these walls your people send!” I think we’re there, God! We’re beyond the walls and, personally speaking, I’m feeling stirred from placidness.
That all said, and despite the difficulties of the timing of this announcement, I have been so impressed by our volunteers at St. Peter’s. Over the last week or so, Betsy Linn and I have been hearing from our worship volunteers as they essentially say, “Here I am. Send me!” as their church calls them into service once again. Similarly I’ve gotten to see and hear some of St. Peter’s fantastic musicians as we’ve gathered for bell rehearsals indoors and vocal rehearsals outdoors to prepare music to share on Pentecost. Our Risk Management and Worship committees are also convening meetings to discuss how these changes may affect our plans going forward. It’s an exciting time!
I can only trust that the Spirit continues to guide the church as it gives its reverent best guess with how to continue to move forward. The Spirit’s breath goads us, stirs us up, calls to us, and sings to us the song of God’s love for humankind. We share in that metaphorical song and think longingly, and perhaps a bit more concretely, about how we may do so safely. We can think and feel all of this knowing that God has never forsaken church and never will.