Today, as I compose this note, it is the third anniversary of “The Shutdown.” March 13, 2020 was the day that St. Louis County issued a “Stay At Home” order to combat the spread of Covid-19, and we had to rethink everything. Not only us, but everyone.
We kept it going, but moved everything online. The thing people needed most was connection, so we went live multiple times a day with devotionals, scripture readings, prayers, and songs. The early days saw as many as 150 people watching those online devotions live, with many more watching them at other times.
We worshiped from home, with the services streamed live from the sanctuary. Our small groups continued to meet, using zoom as their classroom. Our youth got together online, for church as well as school, which wasn’t easy. Our kids’ ministry recorded stories and posted them along with activities, trusting that parents would help their kids do them. Music groups took a hard hit, but kept connected through the struggle, looking forward to things like “Choir Time With Kevin” and other meet-ups.
And you know what? We did it. We learned a lot. And we did it.
But the truth was, it wasn’t the same. We lost a lot of people. It was really hard work and we emerged from it exhausted and shaken. We’re still realizing the implications and living into the new normal. Things will never be the same as they were before March 13, 2020.
This is the truth: Things will never be the same as they were before March 13, 2020.
We need to understand that, say that out loud, and claim that truth in order to flourish as a church. It may be painful to say so, but it’s important to be honest about the story of how we have gotten to where we are.
Cole Arthur Riley wrote that Lent “is a season where we become truth-tellers even to the risk of our own image and status. And as the disorder of the world is exposed, we look toward a God who is coming to shift the cosmos back toward justice and shalom.”
I hope we always tell the truth about these last three years, that we don’t try to romanticize it or gloss over the difficult parts. It was hard. It was painful. In many ways, it still is. And truthfully, things will never be the same.