“The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)
I have spent a whole lot of time with my own thoughts in the last month with this lockdown. I am home with two family members, which is absolutely lovely, but they are both busy with their own work and get a little annoyed when I interrupt them for my own entertainment. I have a ton of work to do as well – in some respects ‘online work’ is far more consuming than in-person work. However, the ‘party-girl’ in me desperately wants someone else to hang out and chat with rather than compose conversations by email.
One of the things I’ve thought about a lot this week is our eventual return to in-person worship at Bethel. I can’t wait until we are all vaccinated and can hang out with each other without masks and safe social distancing! I really want a UCW meeting where Kathleen brings chocolate and Barb bakes cookies for all of us to eat together. I want one of Suzanne’s tourtieres. I want to sing hymns at the top of my lungs with Carol and Ruth Anne pounding on the keyboards. I want to have my prayer shawl group sit and chat, and hear silly stories and support each other. I want to see ALL of your faces, serve you Communion, lay my hands on your shoulder and pray, or even just hug you after worship.
I’m longing to go back to the way we were.
But here’s the thing: all of our latest evidence says that we never will.
This Pandemic has changed the fabric of who we are and how we operate as community in our world.
There is increasing evidence that we will be living with forms of Covid-19 for many years to come, and that we likely will have to have infection control measures in common spaces for a long time. Many people in our community of faith are vulnerable; in fact I would say that most of us are. Others have had to make hard decisions to move to more support and care because of the isolation that the ‘stay-at-home’ orders brought. The community of Bethel is not the same as it was almost a year ago.
But maybe that’s good. In fact, maybe its God. You see, we may be like the Israelites, stumbling around in the desert of Covid-19, and, in my case, feeling a little hard-done by. But, God has brought us from our Egypt and is leading us to, well maybe, our own little Promised Land.
So what will our Promised Land look like? I don’t really know. It would be easier if I did, wouldn’t it. I do know that it will include a worshiping community that is connected even if they can’t be at worship and events in person; a more accessible and equitable community of faith. I also know that it will include a Stewardship team and UCW that values connection with other organizations and churches in order to reach out effectively to our world; a more connected and integrated world-wide Church. I also know that it will be a community that values ‘Loving one another’ over gathering together; a more altruistic and self-less community of faith.
And that, dear Friends, really is a Promised Land, isn’t it? We have been brought out of Egypt. Yeah, we really still are in the desert, bumbling around and looking for direction but God is still there, leading us and guiding us into something better.
Blessings today, and Remember you are Loved.
(Today’s pic is out of the door to my sunroom. We keep having to shovel a path for our dogs to go out because they’re so little they’d get buried! I had a silly wicked thought that that’s kinda like God – shovelling paths in our metaphorical snow storms so we can go out to do our ‘business’ and not get buried. Out of Egypt, eh!)