We met on Sunday for the first time since March. It was good to meet together again, but it was also strange. It was strange in terms of the socially distanced layout. Church at Grace has always been about family and relationships and being involved in one another lives. That for the moment is not possible on a Sunday morning. As people arrive sit in their socially distanced seats and don’t have conversations with one another either beforehand or afterwards.
But it was good to be physically present together. There is encouragement at it’s most basic in simply being present. We ran two services, one at 9.30 and one at 10.45 with some cleaning in between. The services were short; a psalm read, a prayer, a videoed children’s talk, a videoed reading, and a sermon on Matthew 12v1-14, before we listened to a video of a song as we paused to think about how God was calling us to respond, before we prayed and left one row at a time.
We recorded the first service and uploaded it to YouTube after the service. And live-streamed the second service in it’s entirety via FaceBook Live. We also put together a playlist of hymns and songs for people to use before or after they arrived. And we gathered on zoom still at 12.15 for people to catch up with one another.
I did miss the singing but the value of meeting together outweighed that. Everyone followed social distancing, everyone was bemasked(I know, but hoping it catches on).
As we go forward we will need to work hard at maintaining unity, we are now split in 3, one congregation at 9.30 one at 10.45 and about 1/3 of the congregation still shielding or feeling social distancing is too difficult with young children. We are praying that God helps us stay united, we are working hard to make things as accessible as possible. But going forward I wonder if this will be the biggest challenge.