Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#73

“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’ ”  (Psalm 122:1)

It is Sunday again, another Sunday in the era of COVID.  I have lost count of how many Sundays have come and gone.  But today I was in the house of the Lord and it was good to be there.  Actually we have been gathering for worship for the past five Sundays, restoring to this day of the week its rightful place of prominence as the Lord’s day.

It was good to sit in the old, familiar sanctuary surrounded by stained glass and singing souls, (well music was playing and words were heard, muffled though they were through the masks we all wore.)

Today, I was glad and I am sad, simultaneously.  God’s house is open once again. Gladness.  It is not full, as it has been pre-COVID.  We sit separately, spaced purposefully with distance dividing us, which is easy to do with few people and much space.  Sadness.

There is a silence present today, a silence not normally present in this church of formerly wild, unabashed, unashamed, unrestrained worshipers – a silence that is out of place in this sanctuary where we saved sinners come together to celebrate our salvation and praise God who gave us this priceless gift.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.”   (Psalm 100:1-2)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” (Psalm 98:4-6)

The sound of singing – the shouting for joy – that’s what is missing this morning. Our muted, muffled, muddled, masked voices are just not the same.  Apparently others feel it too, and silence ensues.  Masks have a way of muzzling people, rendering them silent and anonymous.

I have never missed smiles more than in this era of mandated masks.  It’s true we often don’t realize the value of something until it is taken from us and this would be one of those examples.  The smiles of other people, those I know and those I don’t know but simply pass by on the street or in a store, both have the power to brighten my day, to change my day, to lift me up, to make me feel connected to others in this world in which I live –

And I like to think my smile given to an anonymous stranger or to a friend, has the same power to positively affect them.  Masks have removed from us our ability, our opportunity, to give and to receive this daily gift of smiles.  And ironically, this is the very time when we all need a smile and the good will it extends to another, more than ever before.

Masks are now one more barrier to be overcome in communicating with others. Those who depended on lip reading to supplement their hearing deficit are definitely at a disadvantage right now as are those who wear hearing aides since masks muffle the speaker’s voice.

And so today, as we sit in this sanctuary, a bunch of socially distanced, masked individuals, come to worship in community with each other, we are confronted with the visible reminders of the separation that is being required of us at this time.

Today there is no greeting of the fellowship or testimony of the word, parts of the service that bring us closer together as we get to know one another and share in each others’ lives.  I confess – glad as I am to be here, I am also sad for what has been lost in the effort to comply with all necessary guidelines.

Still, in Luke 19:40, Jesus told the Pharisees who had asked His disciples to quiet down, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

All creation is singing God’s praises continually.  Our silence doesn’t diminish this chorus in the least.  But we miss out on the opportunity to gather and give God glory, joining with others, kind of a foreshadowing of the heavenly chorus to which we will one day belong.

In Hebrews 8:5, we read about an earthly sanctuary, “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.  That is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ ”

So I know that this earthly sanctuary in which I sit today is just a shadow, a copy of what will be in heaven.  Still, my hope is that my church (and all churches) will again be full of people, filled with song and hugs and handshakes and smiling faces, as we behold each other face to face once again.

Moses knew the importance of the face to face encounter.  Exodus 33:11 tells us, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” There is something personal and vulnerable and powerful about the face to face interaction that is lacking when our faces are covered.

Still, there will come a day when what is hidden will be revealed.  We will no longer feel the need of wearing a mask, whether a literal mask or the metaphorical masks we each wear far more often than we want to admit.  The former we wear to protect us from illness, the latter we wear to protect our true identities, to protect us from the pain of being seen too clearly and rejected.  But a day will come when neither kind of mask is needed any longer.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  (1 Corinthians 13:12)

fully seen, fully known, fully accepted –

sincerely,       Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#73

  1. I too missed the smiles-the familiar faces the hugs and hand shakes {elbow bumps lack a lot) and testimony of people who can encourage us with telling us what God has done or is doing in their lives. I was happy to see you there and Felicia and many others just to know they are still alive and well. I realize now that about half of the church was in the downstairs watching on video. That also leaves something to be desired. Still it was refreshing to my soul to bee in the House of the Lord and to worship Him again. I know you can worship in a vacant field but it is not the same. Hopefully this virus thing will be over soon and things will return to what is familiar.

    Like

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