I have a confession to make. Please don’t hold it against me. My confession: I have been having trouble listening and watching church services during the lockdown. I generally love listening to a good preacher. And I am aware we have access to almost anyone I would deem a good preacher right now. That should be a good thing for a church geek like me, but I have trouble listening and watching now.
In response to my confession, I might offer an explanation. That is I have trouble concentrating. When we are grieving, we do struggle with being focused. So I could use that as my excuse, but I don’t really think a lack of concentration is the reason. This morning I listened to a service, a good service, and I have been sad all morning.
I am sad because it reminds me of what I am missing. I identify myself as a “preacher.” As a preacher, I am missing the interaction in the community of faith. I am missing developing friendships. (My advice: don’t move just before a pandemic.). I am missing the surprises of being with other people who have stories and ideas to share.
When leading worship, I always have mixed feelings. My feelings range generally between fear and dread. I feel the responsibility of leading worship and worry that I might not have the message together enough. Sometimes I am sure I have not, but there are times when I feel a warmth and connection during a service. On those times, I believe the Holy Spirit is at work. I also enjoy the conversations after the service. In the worship and the conversations there is a connection which is energising, despite my fear and dread as 10.30 a.m. approaches. I love the connections made around the act of worship by the Holy Spirit.
Now I firmly believe God is present in many ways in life, in people who aren’t church people, in small kindnesses shared and in grand gestures. I am sure God is at work even now, in people we pass on the streets, in our neighbours, in shops, in nursing homes, hospitals, surgeries, in warehouses and schools and delivery and lorry drivers. The list is really endless despite the lockdown. God is still present. I know that is true, but I still feel sad. I miss the human connection, the unexpected touch of the Spirit, the smile we share, even the frustration when things go wrong. Today I can see God at work, but I’m still sad.
I am grateful for life, but life has taken a new shape. I accept it has to be this way. I am even grateful it can be this way, but I can’t see the way out of it. I am being changed by this new way of life. There is a future, but it will be different than we imagines. I am sad for what the loss of what was and not yet able to imagine what might be.
So today I am simply sad. Today will have its gifts despite my sadness. Tomorrow I will leave to the One who holds our future in His/Her hands. And one day, in that future, I will enjoy a good sermon again!
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