If you follow the rhythm of the church year, and pay attention to the colors that are used to decorate the sanctuary throughout the year, there are certain things you come to expect and those things just feel “natural.” As we have learned this year, there are times when that “natural rhythm” gets disrupted. Our congregation gathered for worship in March, on the Third Sunday in Lent, we then needed to close our building due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. At that time, the colors in the sanctuary and for our welcome sign in the narthex were purple. When the building was closed, I thought it would be interesting to just leave things as they were, we were using the chapel for zoom worship services, so Pastor Dave and I would change the colors there, but the sanctuary stayed as it was in March. Purple hung on the altar, lectern and pulpit. The banners that hung were the crosses that we use for the season of Lent. The bulletin stands in the narthex had the left over copies of the Lent 3 bulletin.
During the months the building was closed, I found myself entering the sanctuary as infrequently as possible. It’s a space that means so much to so many of us, and I often find myself pacing the aisles of the sanctuary as I brainstorm for sermons, but I refrained from doing so for all of these months. I thought, if you all couldn’t be in there, I wouldn’t spend time there either. Now, there were the times when I needed to go in to get supplies from the sacristy, so I would go get them.
I walked in sometime over the summer, and I just stood there. In July, it’s a bit jarring to see a sanctuary set up for Lent. Then came October, and it was time to clean up in preparation to use the sanctuary again. The colors went from purple for Lent to red for Reformation...we did not make the change to scarlet for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, bare for Good Friday, white for Easter, red for Pentecost, and green for the season after Pentecost. We went straight to red for Reformation. The day the paraments and banners were changed and the cleaning up began, I turned on the lights and scooted into the sanctuary. I looked around and just thought about how odd it all felt. With the help of John Murphy, Donna Beall, Carole Manges and Sandy August, the colors on the altar, lectern and pulpit were changed, the banners were changed, signs highlighting our restrictions were hung, and the building was prepared for us to gather again. One thing I wanted to do was put the bulletins from Lent in the recycling container, there was something symbolic in that act. During that morning, the impact of this year hit me in a way it hadn’t before.
It was odd. It still is odd, to think about the time that we were not in that worship space, and to think about how long it will be before we are “at capacity” and don’t have pews marked off so they aren’t used, when we will be able to sing together again, when life will feel “normal” again can be overwhelming, because we don’t know when that will be.
But, for now, even in the midst of the oddness, I continue to be thankful that we have still connected to one another throughout this time, that we have found ways to be community while apart physically, and that we are continuing to grow in our faith! I remain hopeful that one day, this will be past us, and we will be finding our way into the future together.
So, as we enter into the month of “Thanksgiving,” please know, I am very thankful for all of you, the congregation of St. Paul’s! I am thankful for our work and ministry together!
I would also like to extend a personal word of thanks, to all of your for your thoughts, prayers, and check-ins as I have been healing from my broken foot!