When Patience Isn’t Enough

I’ve started to notice, here and there, in little remarks or responses, the revealing of the idea that patience is the key to how we, as a church, will get through the pandemic. And, in that idea, the exposure of a little kernel that we will, at some point, get back to “normal.” All we need to do now is to be patient.

It’s not an agenda item at meetings, nor is it articulated in a clear way. It’s just there, lingering on the edge of conversations or observations. Although our patience has been sorely tested through the pandemic, we just need to hang in there for just a bit longer. And, back to “normal” we will be.

I usually notice an inkling of this concept when we are talking about technology, especially when I suggest that we need to work on improvements in how we use technology. While the congregation of Old South has been, for the most part, extremely thankful for Zoom (especially when we were not able to meet in person) and remarkably eager to embrace this new thing, we are not where we could be, or should be. It’s as if learning how to join a Zoom meeting seems like plenty in the “learning new things” department.

After attending an online workshop on hybrid worship, I introduced the concept of an online worship greeter, someone who would do the same job as the in person greeter, only on Zoom. The “job” of the online greeter is to sign in early and greet each person who joins the worship service via Zoom, verbally or through the “chat” function. I thought this was a great idea and added to the list of Sunday tasks. No one has signed up.

Trying to expand the number of volunteers who handle the “tech” side of worship has been stubbornly problematic. A few have expressed interest, but the follow up for training has been lacking. And, then there are a couple of people who express a deep conviction that they simply are not capable of handling the tech side of worship, as if their brains aren’t wired correctly, In the background, there’s a lingering sense of why. Why do we need to continue to learn new stuff, when we will, at some point, be back to how things were before the pandemic?

Life in a small congregation like Old South has completely and utterly changed. The hard and clear truth is that we will not be sliding back into what we once were. The world has changed. We have changed. Like it or not.

Who and what we are now, and who and what we’ll be in the future, isn’t just about waiting out the pandemic, ready to return to how we once lived out our church existence. We will never go back there. There is no “back to normal” awaiting us.

The sooner we can embrace not only the new normal, but the fact that we are still very much in the midst of change, the more fulfilling our lives of faith will be.

In this season of Advent, we ought not be waiting and watching for when and how we will get back to what we were in early 2020. We ought not don patience as if it will protect us from the unpleasant new things that call to us. Instead, we ought to be alert for the new ways that God comes to us and in the new ways we are called to be God’s faithful, worshiping people.

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.
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1 Response to When Patience Isn’t Enough

  1. Christine says:

    Good thoughts, but they need to also be shared somehow with more of our congregation. Would Oversight be a good place to start?

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