We have moved from “Be patient, we’re almost there” to “Let’s make hay while the sun shines.”
There is no space for Monday morning quarterbacking in the pandemic. Every day is new. There are no experts in how to “do pandemic” outside of the scientific aspect. Churches wrote no how-tos after the 1918 pandemic, nor did most even document their experience. (I want us to do differently.)
As was said at the beginning of covid, we are building the plane as we fly it. Assumptions we operated on at the beginning no longer work, whether it is the idea that washing our hands will protect us, or the wistful idea that the day would come when it would be completely safe for all of us to return to church, masks left by the wayside.
Today, we juggle both worry over new names (Omicron) and hope (Molnupiravir and Paxlovid). Based on the best information we have right now, we return to our church sanctuary this Sunday with two services to allow plenty of social distancing. Alternate rows will be roped off, vaccines (if eligible) and masks are required.
Based on both science and the anecdotal evidence of my colleagues whose churches have been inside for the last couple of months, we will allow singing, albeit while masked. Our voices may be muffled, but no less joyful.
Though there aren’t guides about “How to do church in a waxing and waning pandemic,” many of us have our own life experiences to draw from. Times when we’ve lived with uncertainty. In our home, we learned while dealing with cancer to take advantage of the good days, whether it was “high blood count” days during treatment, or the months of uncertainty after treatment ended, not knowing if it would return. We made the most of those days, knowing that they might be precious and limited. In some ways, I have never lived life so fully. My view was very short – a month or so at a time. We lived with gusto, seeing friends, going to museums and events, and decidedly not living on auto-pilot.
We have our plans…and we hold them loosely. Everything is written in pencil, metaphorically. We may need to return to outdoor or only-online church. Or things may get better. (We shouldn’t discard that hope!)
I’m so glad that Live Oak, long before pandemic was a thing, embraced a culture of “Always in Beta.” I believe it set us up to be more flexible, and thus more resilient.
It is December. Let’s make hay – er, decorate the tree – while the sun shines!