I went to my office today to do some necessary work that I couldn’t do from home. The ivy plant near my office looked droopy, in desperate need of water. I carried it down the hall past the Fred Horner Quiet Center that was too quiet. No women’s Bible studies gathered to pray and study and learn.
I took the plant to our Virginia Gilmer Room kitchen: the hub of activity where our elders gather to prepare communion and our baptism guild sets out homemade cookies and lemonade to celebrate the families whose children are being baptized.
The kitchen had been wiped down by our caring custodial staff and showed no signs of activity for six weeks.
While the ivy plant soaked in the sink, I walked down to our Welcome Center. There was the life-size poster of Hoke Huss requesting for us to feed the hungry with a pound count from March 2020. The chairs and tables were assembled for our Holy Folders as well as for our member volunteers who serve ham biscuits on Sunday mornings. I imagined all of them laughing and talking as they offered their gifts of ministry for our faith community.
I then walked through the Corl Building where the classrooms of the Weekday Preschool were shut. One room had a shamrock on its door; another had a Dr. Seuss hat with all the names of the students written on it. But there was no music, no sounds of innocent play, no soothing teacher voices.
Finally, I walked through Mullin Life Center and looked up at the walls.
They were covered in posters that told of the upcoming Palm Sunday parade, Holy Week services, the Easter flowering cross …. all traditions we love that we could not have this year.
What I realized as I walked through our beloved church campus, was that it is not the buildings that I love, it is the people who fill it. The faithful who come and seek meaning, purpose, and direction as Christian disciples. And that is what I miss most.
Yet, in these six weeks of being apart, I have been amazed as I have witnessed how our members rise up and are still a faith community even though we are physically apart.
In fact, maybe we are actually hearing God teach us a “new” way of how to be the church. “New” in a way that is from our Biblical narratives. We are being the body of Christ person to person even when we can’t physically be together by:
- calling one another,
- praying for our essential workers who cannot shelter in place,
- making and dropping off meals or face masks,
- celebrating milestones of our high and college seniors,
- continuing to participate in feeding initiatives like Hot Dish & Hope and the Giving Back Garden, and supporting Backpack Beginnings.
We are also learning how to continue to study, pray, and grow deeper using 21st century technology.
In my prayers, I give thanks to God for each and every person who makes us the body of Christ.
Right now, more than ever, we need to remember our God-given gifts; those gifts have not been taken away in this pandemic. We are still called to be the church for one another. Let us find new and creative ways to use our gifts to glorify God and love one another.
Like the hymn says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”