First, we were advised not to go to church. Then forbidden to go.
I’ve attended since a newborn. As a toddler, I sat on the front pew as my mother played the piano. Mom dressed my brother and me in sleepers, as we nodded off before services ended.
Sleepers! In front of God and everybody! An indignity not to be endured.
Finally, Mom gave in, and I wore proper church attire.
Our small church supplied infinite hugs. I played hide-and-seek after services with friends more like cousins. And the potlucks! I still embrace the credo that the church supplies the ultimate food for both body and soul.
Best of all, I not only learned the song, “Jesus Loves Me,” at church, I grew in that truth.
As a teen, though, I fantasized about skipping services. Later, as a busy church music director, I occasionally longed to worship per TV, where everyone sang on key.
Sometimes, the following prayer cropped up: “God, just this Sunday, may I stay in bed?” Worshipping while wearing sleepers sounded downright spiritual.
Then the coronavirus, a dark angel, swooped in.
Watching online worship while wearing bathrobes, our shaggy-haired congregation probably looked quite biblical. So good to see our pastors. To drink in the Scriptures, living water for parched people in a COVID-19 desert.
Yet, a cyber hug can never replace a real one. When restrictions were lifted, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
Except those — including seniors — considered high risk.
As a teen, I’d wanted to sneak out of services. Now I considered sneaking in.
Could I lie about my age to attend church? What if a bouncer carded me — “She’s got Medicare B!” — and tossed me out?
Reluctantly, Hubby and I continued online worship. The small congregation practiced “social distancing,” as if all had forgotten to shower. The long-haired, masked group resembled a gathering of hippie surgeons.
Yet, I ached to be there. …
Finally, when seniors received a sort-of green light, Hubby and I donned masks and went to church, sitting miles away from friends we’d missed so much.
My mask fogged my glasses, causing hymn lyrics to disappear. The mask contracted when I inhaled, poufed when I sang. Still, loving the church family voices around us, Hubby and I belted out hymns with vigor.
Despite the odd, reduced gathering, Jesus was there.
We and our brothers and sisters at home pray fervently that soon, we will all be together again. Meanwhile, we connect through prayer, technology, and conversations across yards, streets, and parking lots.
Above all, we connect through joy that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Even wearing sleepers for church can’t take that away.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Has the pandemic changed your church?