Gathering for worship during the pandemic has proved challenging for churches everywhere. It has led many churches to meet in whatever outdoor spaces are available to them. Many of us at St. B’s have come to terms with the trade-off of worshipping outdoors rather than indoors. Last Fall we gathered for worship on the front lawn of the church, and were on full display for interested onlookers who happened to be walking or driving by. This Fall, we are worshipping on the back lawn where it is less noisy, more intimate and quite idyllic on a sunny afternoon. The worship experience is enhanced by intentionally “carved out” time for quiet reflection, a mutual sense of appreciation that we can at last worship with both children and adults present and do so with an air of informality that is nonetheless reverent and sacramental.
It has also been spiritually uplifting to have the pews in church start to fill up again. Preaching to an empty church, as was the case during the height of the lockdown, was very disconcerting. I am so glad to have company in our beautiful sanctuary again and to begin the process of reconnecting and renewing bonds of affection both at the altar and over refreshments following the service.
Although our collective commitment to the importance of corporate worship has been sorely tested over the last 18 months, I am sensing that our resolve to gather publicly is being revived, albeit cautiously and in the knowledge that we are all at liberty to find the right place and the right time to come back to church.
Onwards in Faith,
Gareth Evans serves as the rector of St. Barnabas. He is an inspirational leader who brings significant pastoral experience, a depth of reverence in worship, and a relatable preaching style.