How many times have you or someone you’re talking to in the last few weeks said, “I can’t wait to get back together in person!” We are anticipating worshiping together in the sanctuary on Sunday, July 11 for the first time in over 15 months, so I have certainly said and heard those words. But I’ve also noticed something else: I am feeling some anxiety that I didn’t expect. It turns out that 15 months of working mostly from home and meeting mostly online means I am feeling a little out of practice with social interactions!
So, I listened intently to an interview with Priya Parker on Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast. Parker is the author of the book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. I highly recommend this conversation about navigating old and new spaces in this moment. At one point, Parker says, “we will all experience micro-moments of perceived rejection over the next many months.” She explains that this might happen when we reach out to shake someone’s hand and, instead of shaking it, the other person offers an elbow or even backs away because maybe they’re not ready to shake hands yet. I fully expect some awkward, uncertain moments like this to unfold on July 11 as a portion of our community returns to in-person worship. My hope is that we extend ourselves and others gentleness and grace, and maybe even be prepared to laugh at how strange it is to do something that used to feel so familiar!
I also expect to experience some conflicting feelings on that Sunday — joy to be worshiping in person as a community, anxious at how to provide a meaningful experience both for those in person and those online, sorrow at those who can’t be with us for all kinds of reasons, grief over those who have died since we last gathered in the sanctuary. Fortunately, I trust that worship is just the place to bring all of those feelings, knowing that in worship — no matter where or how we do it — God meets us where we are, receives all of our uncertainty and anxiety, joy and gratitude, and invites us to join God’s work of building communities where we extend to one another the compassion, mercy, and love God extends to us.
What emotions are you experiencing as we prepare to return to the church building for worship?
What has felt awkward and/or uncomfortable for you as you have done more in-person activities?
What is bringing you joy in this season of regathering?
-written by Rev. Amy Miracle