This series is about life within our new global community, Covid-ville. As our world universally moves into shelters and sanctuaries to fend off this vicious disease, here are some stories from our bubble as we navigate this time with a perspective on mental health, adoption, foster care and family life.
Sometime around 3:30 p.m., I would drive my car onto the floor of the big arena in town, meet up with a staff pastor and do a final walk-through of the venue. Then, I’d load up a box of lost and found into my car and drive away, relieved that this particular Sunday wasn’t coming again for about another year.
At the time, I was worshiping at a different church and serving in a volunteer role on the leadership team. Once upon a time, I answered the phone and was tasked with the job of planning for a church move to the arena for Easter.
That’s how decisions were made there and the task you were given was yours until you messed up or you left. Since I did neither, I pressed repeat for the next decade.
I always felt guilty that my eyes would fill with tears when people came down the aisle in response to the invitation, but yet my mind and my heart could only think, “it’s almost over.” The job, and it truly was, started around January and lasted until Easter. During that time, I would catch myself in the minutia of details and think, Easter Sunday’s coming (meaning it’ll be over.)
Driving away from the arena to meet my family, whom I did not see for the four days prior, I was struck with questions. Did I make my pastor look good? Did he notice anything wrong? Did I do enough work to please the Lord. Questions of guilt, products of a system of control.
At the time I was taught and believed that if you really loved God, you’d show it by working nonstop for him, even at the expense of your family or your job. If you done the job well, the pastor would be well-pleased, and if the pastor was pleased, God would be pleased with you.
Such wrong theology. No wonder I struggled with getting the voice out of my head, “Sunday’s coming. Sunday’s coming. Just make it til then and it will be over, Sunday is coming.”
It’s been a number of years since the Lord pulled up the tent posts and relocated my family to a different fellowship. Much healing, encouragement and relearning Christianity 101 has happened since. I’m a much different person now than I was even a few years ago.
The first Easter there was bizarre, not because of anything the church did, just that it was so different than what I had known for so, so long. It was the first Easter I had spent with my children. The first time in a decade that I had the opportunity to sit in the service. First time I could focus on the meaning of the day instead of ticking off the minute-by-minute itinerary.
But for the past few years, I’ve had a change of heart. Not only has much of the theology I once believed been filtered and sifted and aligned into proper perspective, but my views on Easter have done a 180. Today, it’s my favorite holiday. A time to reflect and pause and worship Jesus for His selfless death and resurrection for us. It’s a joyous celebration. For me. For my wife. For my children.
Guilt has been replaced by joy. Dread by anticipation. Duty with hope.
I hate to admit it, but I’m kinda enjoying the forced simplicity that our church services have become out of the necessity of a livestream. While I miss being in church terribly and I miss everyone greatly, there’s something about this season that I don’t want to forget when this is all over.
Last night, we enjoyed Good Friday service thanks to Zoom and Facebook. Who would have thought… right? It was beautiful. Simple. Intimate. Strip away all the trappings and you get the opportunity to hear the words carefully, sing purposefully and pray boldly. I felt like I was in our pastors’ homes having fellowship with them.
And there from our couch, for the first time in many, many years, I felt a tinge of excitement. Today is Good Friday, death appears to have won, but Sunday… Sunday is coming. I cannot wait.
God conquered death.
God paid the penalty for my sins.
God rose from the dead.
God made a way for me to enter in.
Friday may have been great for us, but it cost our Lord everything. But Sunday … is coming.