Easing Back Into Blessings

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.                                                                                                                                                         Philippians 2:4

Recently I had the privilege of being one of first invitees to come back to my church after eleven weeks of “attending” on line. We are coming back in limited groups, different people each service for a while; those who aren’t there in person can still live stream on line.

As much as I wanted to charge full speed back into church life as I’d remembered it, there were certain rules to be followed now, and I dutifully took one last deep breath of fresh air before donning my face mask upon arrival.

Although we all wore the masks from the moment we left our cars, we could still recognize one another. (I resisted the urge to say, “Trick or treat!”) Walking up the steps to the church entrance, it felt like forever since we had been there, and at the same time it felt as though no time had passed at all.

There was no cluster of people around the table in the foyer that usually held the bulletins, and the coffee stations looked sad with hand sanitizer in lieu of their usual fare. We walked directly into the sanctuary and picked up sterile bulletins from where we sat down. Every other pew was blocked off, and seating was spaced with 6-foot gaps between families. People were discouraged from using the rest rooms, which were limited to just one person at a time.

Watching a service on line, I had always sung along at home with the “socially distanced” worship team appearing across the screen (four singers, a piano, and a couple of guitars). I had sung with gusto, filling my living room the best I could. But somehow my “joyful noise” had been lacking.

However, that night at church when the music started with about a third of the usual congregation, I was overjoyed to hear us all singing the familiar songs again. I was surprised at how well our voices carried through the masks, complete with four-part harmony, some of us with hands lifted toward heaven. It felt like being in God’s throne room. Although it wasn’t close to the experience we used to enjoy, it was such a blessing just to be together again that I had happy tears in my eyes. Later I heard the pastor get choked up, too, as he led us in prayer.

I remember reading somewhere that when people have been starving for extended periods of time, it is a very bad idea to gorge on food as soon as it’s available. It’s reportedly healthier – and I would think, more gratifying – to take a little at a time and savor each bite, while the stomach gets used to being fed again.

Yes, I am REALLY looking forward to the day we can all gather again with no one left out, singing with smiles uncovered, enjoying hugs, hand-shakes, fist-bumps, high fives, whatever your thing is. We’ll “catch up” on one another’s lives over cups of coffee, while our children and grandchildren run around together, laughing and playing. We’ll lay hands on the sick and gather in small huddles to offer up impromptu prayers for one another. We’ll feast on the fellowship we’ve been missing during our times of isolation.

But for now, I’m happy to taste the morsels of joy I’ve missed so much  – the smiling eyes peeking out from masked faces, familiar voices, and gestures of “virtual hugs” from friends long absent. I’m trying to exercise patience and savoring the moments as they come.

If we take our blessings back one at a time, we have a better chance to truly appreciate each one, not to mention showing respect and compassion for those whose fragile health might still be making them uneasy about rejoining the community.

The fact that there are different opinions about the closing down of our society has become painfully obvious. It seems some people with opposing viewpoints are at each other’s throats, one side accusing the other of not caring if they die of Covid, and the other accusing anyone who disagrees with them of not caring if they go bankrupt and die homeless on the street. (I’m about to take a break from social media. I need a breather.)

I would describe myself as neither a terrified recluse or a defiant protester. As a friend used to say, “I’m a staunch middle-of-the-roader.” I believe and hope that there is a way to gather safely, to be the much-needed support system for one another, while at the same time being respectful of those who are still frightened of the virus.

(Sometimes I feel like I’ve had it, and I want to scream at the Corona virus, like a child having a tantrum, “JUST LEAVE US ALONE!!!” But obviously if that strategy had had any chance of working, someone would have done it by now.)

So for now, we take back our privileges as they become available, savoring each one, each moment, as a gift from the Giver of Life. As we set aside our preferences to show consideration to the needs of others, we have an opportunity to grow in the “fruits of the Spirit,” such as patience and self control.  With God’s help, we can benefit from the experience ourselves, as we can from every life experience when we give it to Him.

Prayer: Father in heaven, we confess that some of us get impatient with what we consider partial blessings. We long to get back to the full experience of fellowship with the Body of Christ. And yet we remember how Your Son Jesus suffered the separation from You as He hung on the cross to pay for our sins. Give us patience and a selfless, Christ-like attitude as we ease back into the blessed life we enjoyed and took for granted before – and may we never take it for granted again! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

40 thoughts on “Easing Back Into Blessings

  1. Well said with so much Hope and Grace! Yes, we must remember Fear is a lie from the dark and we are to stay in the Light of Love💜
    Thank you for reminders!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If a little inconvenience on our part can lessen the fear for others and encourage them to worship with us, then we will do what we can to put them at ease, for now … But when we get to heaven, perfect love will have cast out all fear, and we will see one another – and HIM! – face to face. (Glory!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It must have been wonderful to be back in church, even if all members weren’t present in person.
    I’m all for easing back into things gently too. ☺

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I have yet to rejoin our gatherings. Our congregation opens up the second week of July. I crave it, and yet not looking forward to all the restrictions. The church has never gone through this exact thing in history, at least in the restrictive assembly. We are in unique times. Certainly memorable for our generation. God’s grip – Alan

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I love your comparison to a fast. I had never thought about it that way. We too have gone back and while it’s definitely not the same as it used to be, I am overjoyed to sing with our congregation. It took me aback, how emotional I felt when we started singing! Can you just imagine Heaven, Anne??? Thanks for this today!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Amen and amen!
    As I read this my heart longed even more for our eternal home, where we will have unrestricted and unhindered fellowship with both our Daddy, and each other.
    PS: I love the part of being a middle-roader. You have company in this regard.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I had a similar experience of having the privilege to be invited to attend service last Sunday . Even though it was not like having a full church and with people not touching or standing too close. We as a family had such a wonderful time of worship and prayer. Truly makes us appreciate the blessings of having fellowship and worship with a body of believers. I am for gently easing back into things and being wise into returning to normal. After all the care and distancing we have practised, it would not be wise to just rush back into things and that is how our church here sees it too.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love the idea of savoring one blessing at a time. Our church has decided to remain “virtual” until at least Labor Day. I miss being around people, but worshiping in PJs with a cup of coffee in my hand is kind of cool, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. 🙂 It sounds like your church is working hard to stay healthy. As we are having an outbreak in our own community that began at a church where masks were not being worn, that sounds like a good plan.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Awesome words!! And love the analogy of savoring!

    I join you with this title:
    “I’m a staunch middle-of-the-roader.” I think it definitely helps not being on social media, I don’t have Facebook or Instagram or any of that other stuff but from what my friends tell me it’s definitely a drag down

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think being middle-of the-road is not so much a lack of commitment as it an attempt at balance. Our culture seems to be getting more and more polarized. Since everyone seems to be telling only the parts of the story they want you to know, I’ve been listening to both sides to try to get as close to the whole truth as I can. It can be both enlightening and frustrating, as I can get arguments from people on both sides. That’s when I just want to turn off the laptop and go for a prayer walk with my dog. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with us. I love your humor mixed in the midst of this, “I resisted the urge to say, ‘Trick or treat!'”

    A wonderful scripture selection pointing readers towards actions that honor the Father. You have beautifully expressed some great wisdom with respect to those anywhere on the spectrum.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Reading this really is moving. Our church is going slow with meeting, our county is among the top ones with the virus and yesterday California reached a new record of amount of people with the virus. But reading this I can picture it more our church starting up again…one day

    Liked by 1 person

  12. thanks for sharing your experience so vividly. things have certainly turned around quite dramatically, what used to be, no longer is. but i still believe strongly that Our God is in Control….that’s what makes HIM God…….I love that part about our God…..the Power, the Strength, The Mystery….the Mercy…Oh He’s just too indescribable and i urge anyone reading this to just revel in who He is for a moment and you will see all things around become like little specs of dust….that’s how big our God really is…..focus on Him and you will Win….always.

    Liked by 1 person

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