Like you, I’m tired of this pandemic and want it to end. I’m tired of hearing the slogans « a new normal » or « a new reality. » I understand why people use these slogans because, like me, no one knows what to do next. No one has been able to give us direction to where we need to go. So every new challenge that slithers around the corner is met with, « It’s the new normal.”
Like you, I’m getting screen fatigue from all the meetings and services online. As a pastor, I’m still not comfortable preaching to a screen and wish to be around people again. I miss hearing us worship together. I miss greeting one another with handshakes and hugs. I miss the ad-hoc conversations about people’s life and ribbing those who cheer for a different sports team. Most of my conversations now have been reduced to problem-solving.
Like you, I had plans at the beginning of this year that disappeared like dew in the morning when the sun comes out. I now find myself building the bridge as I cross it with the hopes that it brings me to the other side safely without knowing what the other side looks like or has in store for me.
Like you, I’ve realized that this pandemic is not going away. I was thinking by the summer, we would see the tail end of Covid-19, and we could continue our way of life. When that didn’t happen, I thought autumn would be the time because that’s when the church begins its ministry year, but that is unlikely because it’s autumn, and in Ontario, we are moving backwards and reducing the number of people who can gather together.
Like you, I am grieving what was, and I am hopeful for what will be because when our surroundings change, what’s essential rises to the top. The Lord told this to Jeremiah when Israel was going into exile. « Build houses, plant gardens, have children, and worship. » Continue to focus on what is essential.
Like you, I am seeing many activities, events, and programs that were distracting the church from its core mission. I am seeing the building is no longer the church’s focal point because people are learning that relationships are more important than gathering in a building. I am seeing churches spend more time on care and community and not just preparing for Sunday service.
Like you, I am seeing families taking a more prominent role for spiritual growth in the next generation because parents are no longer able to drop their children off to a midweek ministry program. I have had a great time during quarantine, spending some needed quality time with my grown children and my wife, Christa. Christa and I have built a stronger marriage because we survived three major home projects together during the quarantine.
Like you, I am seeing the church being more involved in speaking out against the injustices that are taking place in our communities. Wanting to partner with the Spirit in bringing God’s Kingdom and Will to earth as it is in heaven. I am seeing that we understand the Gospel of Jesus is more than forgiveness. Simply forgiving and accepting that injustice exists is not enough. This response leaves us in destruction. Jesus brings freedom, healing, and restoration and that is our role.
Like you, I am seeing the church returning to be the church envisioned by Jesus.
By Dennis Ball
Regional Coach for Central Ontario and Lead Pastor at Bramalea Free Methodist Church