Today is Palm Sunday. And today I will sit in my living room and watch the service on Facebook. I will be watching the work of our tech team, our pastor, our music team, and myself.
We worked this week, reporting to the sanctuary at different times, to video tape all the elements of the service to be pieced together and posted to our Facebook page this morning–scheduled to air at 9:30 AM.
We had to cancel the order for the palms that traditionally are handed out during the service, added to the kids’ time, and laid on the altar. Not using them this year. Granted there are several pastors and churches and craft-lovers who are finding dozens of ways to share the palms in new and different ways, but the pandemic protocols has taken away the traditions, the normalcy, the human touch.
There is pain in these days. We are feeling the emotional pain of change. We are feeling the numbing sense of loneliness. We are feeling disheveled without the usual daily routines–not to mention the fear of even being infected by COVID-19.
But as real as the pain is during this insanity, there are so many new and exciting experiences, changes, and inventions developing as a direct result of the forced restrictions in our lives.
First, look at what is happening to our churches, switching almost instantly to streaming worship services through Facebook, the YouTube channel, or their own web pages. The skills were not already in place for many, but we learn and grow.
Second, schools suddenly lost the classrooms. Teachers cannot depend on the one-on-one contact in person, now they are learning how to use the virtual resources to do the same thing. This is probably more difficult for the elementary teachers, but I remember how I needed help with high school math. Losing the contact with the teachers is forcing educators to rethink virtually every facet of teaching.
Consider our family structures, too. Our culture finds households dependent on two incomes, we encourage mothers to be professionals in the work force. This has led our society to step away from the core family roles. Now families are forced to restructure what their daily family life is, especially since so many have been sent home to work or forcing them into unemployment.
The list grows of all the ways the pandemic is forcing us to create new ways to manage our lives. Oddly enough, there is so much good that is developing from this crisis.
Sadly, the forced changes do create pain. Yesterday I felt that pain personally. As our state shut down, I had to make a decision. I had to decide whether I could do something I felt passionate about doing to support my own family, or whether I had to close the door and become one step more isolated.
I am amazed how a virus can spread completely around the globe and affect me so personally even when I still have no contact with someone infected or have no health issues.
My roles clash–wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and pastor–when decisions have to be made under these conditions. It is personally painful today; but I am part of a community that has grown from the 1970s rural world of family farms to a global community where influences from the farthest reaches of the globe can be delivered right to your own door.
This morning, after hours of tears and misery from submitting to another restriction separating me from the very grandmother, teacher role I loved, I have gotten up, fed the pets, taken a shower and dressed for a full day–makeup and hair, too. The weather has improved, the trees are leafing out, and it is a new day.
In a few moments, I will switch over from the news, open Facebook on the smart TV, and join in Palm Sunday worship. The good is winning over the pain. The changes are going to force new normal patterns in our life. We witness the outpouring of love as our communities rally to support one another through the drive-by parades, the chalk talk on the walks, and the list grows.
The pandemic restrictions may be in place, but I believe the good will erase the pain.
Please join me in prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We may be in a winter of our human history,
But we are in the spring of your glorious world.
Let us look forward to the new world
As we struggle to manage under the virus.
Help us to see how we are all suffering
And know we are never alone.
Thank you for strengthening our resolve,
For sharing in our pain,
For opening our mind to new ideas,
And for our family and friends
doing all they can to comfort and care for us.
Help us with our patience as this season passes
And a new season erupts before us.
Help us to join in the new and push aside the old.
Let us carry forth the lessons we learn
So the future remains welcoming and exciting.
We can do this with all the grace and mercy
You show us as modeled by your son Jesus Christ,
It is in your name, God our Father,
And in your son’s name, Jesus Christ,
And through the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.