Today we are talking about the history of our congregations. It’s important to realize that this time right now, this moment, will be written about in history books, and in the history of our congregations. I wonder what our church histories will say? Maybe something like this:
“On March 11, 2020, the World health organization declared that Covid was not just an outbreak, it was a pandemic. The people did not know what to do. They had never experienced anything like this before. Wash your hands, the news said. Don’t shake hands or hug when you meet people in public, maybe just bump elbows. When our congregations heard about the outbreaks in Washington, in New York, we wondered, “surely this doesn’t impact us, those places are so far away”. But each day the news got scarier, and we thought “just to be safe” let’s not have church this week. And maybe next week too. Then this whole thing will blow over and we can go back to normal. The grocery stores ran out of toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Things felt far from normal.
The churches had heard of Zoom, and some of the people had even used it, but it was hard and confusing. “let’s try” the people said; it’s hard to be apart and maybe this will help. And so the people who knew how to use Zoom helped the others.
Things got bad first in New York state, especially near the city. The government asked people not to meet in big groups. “But we are small” said our congregations “Small enough to be under the limits, small enough to stay 6 feet apart” “but some of us are immune compromised” said the people, it wouldn’t be fair for some of us to meet and others to have to stay home.
The minister said, “I know 2 other congregations who are really great - I think you would like them. Their congregations are small too. If we are going to do this hard thing, of not meeting in person, and learning to meet on Zoom, why not do it together?“
And so they did. They came together to support one another on Zoom, and though they missed each other terribly, they were amazed that even worshiping on their computers and phones helped a little. They were amazed that they met new people who soon felt like old friends, because they were doing a hard thing together.
They shared not only worship but goodie bags, and technology, and music and anti-racism work and picnics and bonfires. They shared their joy of graduations and new grandchildren; they shared their sorrow as loved ones died.
Most importantly they shared hope, when hope was hard to find. They shared caring.
Perhaps the historians of this time will say something like that, adding “That is why to this day we give thanks to our fore-parents who lived through the Covid 19 pandemic, that they kept our congregations going, that they kept each other going through that hard time.”