Earlier this week we participated in a Zoom call with Ruth's four siblings from her original family, along with their spouses. In conversation it was mentioned that the congregations of all of them will return to in-person worship on September 12th, an encouraging development. Our home church Trenton United has been worshipping in person since the last Sunday in May, the third period of time since the pandemic began 18 months ago. Rev. Isaac and the council ceased gathering each time the province announced restrictions. During the first two periods there were no vaccines but careful protocols were observed and everyone stayed healthy. Of course the option of virtual worship is also offered each week.
All the sibling congregations will be resuming worship in provinces with so-called vaccine passports but as we have heard here in Ontario places of worship will be exempt. This makes sense to me. Masks are worn, no alcohol is served that I've heard of -- we even use grape juice for communion in the United Church!
Despite this at least one colleague is appalled that there will be no passport requirement for churches and I must admit I am baffled. I figure every person who is eligible for vaccination should "love their neighbour as themselves" and get jabbed. But children under the age of twelve can't, nor can some people who have legitimate medical restrictions. Do we turn them away at the door? And what about parents and grandparents who care for children who are returning to school (our grandlads are already back.) Do we say they can't attend because of the risk of vicarious transmission even though they may be double-vaxxed? Our son and nephew are United Church ministers who have school aged kids under twelve. Should they be prohibited from entering the sanctuary on a Sunday morning?
There is going to be an element of risk in gathering as Christ's people now and into the future. We don't want to hear this, but variations of COVID could affect our life together for years. There will be no perfect circumstances for resuming life together.
Meanwhile, we will be at church on Sunday where lovely greeters will welcome us, as we are signed in. Our singing will be muffled because we are wearing masks, but we'll make a joyful noise. We'll wave at others in place rather than ramble around, but eyes will be smiling. And we'll celebrate a baptism, carefully orchestrated so that distance is maintained by the presider, but it will be a joyful moment just the same.We'll hear the Good News in scripture and proclamation.
I almost labelled this blog, "Just Congregate, Damn It!" because I'm getting a little frustrated by the naysayers.We are the Church of Jesus, the Living Christ, not the Church of Eyore, We'll find our way, by the grace of God.