Preface: I realize that these continue to be very strange and difficult times for many people. I believe that leaders are doing the best that they can to be faithful and lead well in a very difficult season, especially when we don’t know nearly as much as we’d like. This post is intended to share a moment of gratitude in what has been a difficult season. It is not intended as a passive aggressive attack on other churches or even as comparison. I want to share good news with you. I hope you can receive it in that spirit as a testimony of thanks and God’s goodness to me.
I am confident that March 11, 2020 will be the day I most associate with the beginning of experiencing Covid-19 as a pandemic that would change life in radical ways I could not have anticipated. There are many details between that day and today that are fuzzy and when one day runs into another. But I remember many details of that day clearly, as I talked about in an initial post on growing your faith in a time of social distancing.
Yesterday is a day I hope will be a day that marks the beginning of a return to a new normal. Please read that last sentence as an expression of hope and not as an overly-confident prediction of the future.
On August 2, 2020 at 11:00 am, my church’s parking lot was full of cars once again. It was different than the last time the church parking lot was full on a Sunday. This time there were no people in the building. The congregation was assembled not in pews or folding chairs, but in cars, trucks, and SUVs.
We were given the order of worship as we entered the parking lot, which identified the FM station we were to tune our radios to. And we were directed by parking lot attendants/ushers to our “seats.”
As one of our pastors gave an opening greeting, the congregations honked their horns in celebration of the moment.
There were moments that felt awkward to me. It was almost impossible to simply stay in the car when we arrived because we so badly wanted to be closer to our family of faith that we hadn’t seen in way too long. And there were the inevitable moments when the technology didn’t work as it was intended.
But it was glorious.
As our pastor said at the beginning of his sermon, it is time to stop playing defense with Covid-19. Yesterday was only a first step. But it was a step.
I slid over into the seat with my wife for the celebration of Holy Communion. I wanted to be able to see our pastors as they celebrated and held the elements. I had tears in my eyes throughout the responsive liturgy. I was moved because I realized how hungry and desperate I was for Jesus once the liturgy began. And I was emotional because I was so grateful to be able to receive the Lord’s Supper once again.
We waited forty minutes after the liturgy to receive communion in our car. And it was worth every minute.
Now that doesn’t mean I enjoyed every minute of waiting. At various points every person in the car, myself included, had a moment of impatience. But we also had an awareness that if we could wait five months, we could wait a few more minutes.
I want you to know that the service was not perfect. And I want you to know that I am inexpressibly grateful to the leadership of our church for taking the risk and seeing it through.
I told my kids that this was a unique moment because this is a rare time when the church is doing something it has never done before and never thought it would need to do in this way. There are bound to be hiccups and gaffes along the way. I was excited to see our church stepping into a place where we would make mistakes, but they would be the right kind of mistakes to make in the places we need to learn.
If I’m honest with you, I am aching to be united physically in the same space in closer proximity with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not content for Drive-In Church to become the new normal. But I don’t think it will be. And I am grateful to see my church thoughtfully and carefully working to find ways to reunite the Body of Christ to recite these powerful words:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.