It was so good to have people back in our sanctuary last Sunday for worship. The joy of being together for the worship of God was palpable on both sides of the Livestream lens. I was proud of the way our live worshippers embraced the moment. Despite the addition of extra processes and procedures (registration, assigned seats, masks, etc…), joy was the dominant emotion.
Those in the sanctuary embraced their mission as enliveners of worship for those on Livestream and playfully punctuated worship with two-claps to say “a-men,” and strategically used cell phone lights and expressive body language to honor God. I’m looking forward to more indoor worship in the coming months with both a greater number of people in attendance or more ways to participate.
So, do all these positive signs mean that things are getting better? Is there finally an end in sight?
At the same time as we celebrate positive signs, positivity rates for COVID-19 have been increasing in DuPage County. We’ve officially regressed to an earlier phase of the “Restore Illinois” plan. Later today (10/23), Governor Pritzker will be sharing some details for what this all means.
Do these negative signs mean that things are getting worse? That we are in for a long, dark winter?
Or could it be that reality is showing us that BOTH of the conclusions above are warranted?
I used to think that life was like a teeter-totter with battles on one side and God’s blessings on the other. It seemed a reasonable goal to believe that a Christian life would keep the blessings far outweighing the battles. I naively thought that life’s battles would never have enough weight to bring me crashing down.
These days, I’m more partial to imagining life as a two-track path, the kind that a Jeep or off-road vehicle might traverse. One side of the two-track represents the battles the other side represents the blessings. The only way to move forward in life is to travel the path that is simultaneously grounded in both the battles and the blessings. It’s not one or the other; it’s both at all times and in every season of the journey.
This is the way of Christ. A road marked by suffering while also being the way of beatitude!
This is also the way of COVID for us. A road marked by losses and trials while also being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow in the blessing of giving and receiving grace.
At Elmhurst CRC, we are moving forward. There is cause to celebrate these days. But in the bigger picture, there’s so much more: Our present tests will ultimately give way to our testimonies of what God has done; our current fights will yield to a deeper faith; and all of our many trials will be gathered into the triumph of Jesus who holds all things together.
May God give you a foretaste of these good gifts in worship this weekend!
Grace and peace,