Welcome to the Monday Mailing #15 – Sacred Space
Most of us crave sacred spaces.
“In my own little corner. . .” sings Cinderella, “I can be whatever I want to be.” To have a place, a space that is comforting and safe, is a deep desire for humankind. How many times have you heard someone talk about walking into a church, The Church, our church, and having a feeling of safety, security, shalom. The word for our worship building is Sanctuary … a place of refuge or safety. Refuge and safety.
It is hard for us to not be able to be back in our building. . .our refuge. The Session asked me to move my worship leadership from the confines of my home to the sanctuary of HUPC, in large part as a way of drawing you into the worship space, even when you cannot be there. This place is in your hearts. I can see that. I know that. And every week that you cannot be physically in the space, it hurts even more.
It hurts that a place designed and designated as a place of refuge and safety, can still be a place that injures and kills. One church in the states reportedly told parishioners (and the news) that they had special filters on the A/C that would filter out the Corona Virus. . .they didn’t, nothing like that exists for the building of the Lord. And now that mega-church faces the painful lesson about how people contract and carry viruses … it was not a place of refuge and safety for those gathered.
Countless times in the last couple of months we have seen congregations open up their worship space, and then pay the huge price for ignoring calls for physical distancing, and mask wearing. That cost is sickness, and in some cases death. And while I firmly believe that “there is nothing in all creation which can separate me from the love of God,” I’m not going to choose to contaminate myself with a virus when there are perfectly acceptable ways to avoid that.
Session has given a special task force the responsibility to access the situation, and make a plan for the use of our building, including the sanctuary. They will be consuming the best guidance from many sources. They will be coming to the Session with a plan about re-opening the church building, including the Sanctuary.
What you need to know is this: They are approaching this task prayerfully. So pray for them. No matter what they recommend to the Session, your Session will have the final the call on when we open and what we be required to do that. No matter what the Session decides, some (if not all) will be disappointed in some way. Prepare yourself now to get over it! We will all be masked (or shielded). We will be physically distanced from one another (you know, it was never about socially distancing ourselves, and always about physically distancing ourselves). Responsive readings will not be used, or if used, all will be asked to speak softly into their masks. No hugging, no handshakes. Ushers will do the traditional job of ushers, and tell you where to sit (I know, your family has sat in that seat for nearly 200 years, sigh). Hand sanitizer will be available and you will use it (or your own, but we have to). There will be no communal singing. There will be special music . . .and thanks to all who have volunteered over the last few months. Worship, especially, will look different. . .but we will still be worshiping God, just as we have done for the last several months.
Many of my colleagues pre-record their Sunday services, and then they are uploaded to the inter-webs and people watch from the security of their homes when they want to. I get great joy watching you all log into Zoom on Sunday mornings . . .seeing your faces, and hearing the greetings you bring to one another. While I have loved being back in the Sanctuary, I too cannot wait until the day when we gather back together again in the Sacred Space we know and love.
Until that time, and even once we have come back together. . .be safe, dear friends. Wear your mask, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and spread the love of Christ, for you do that especially well.