This week's news from the Mayor and Governor with renewed restriction was difficult to hear. These measures affect everyone, but our prayers especially go out to owners and staff in the service industry who are struggling for their livelihoods, while trying to do the right thing. Most of us are feeling anxious. Some are angry at those who are not practicing social distancing or wearing masks consistently when in public. We need everyone to do their part for sure. But I think it is important to remember that even if everyone followed every rule, this virus would still be with us. There would be fewer cases and fewer deaths, but we would still not be "back to normal.” Science still has much more to learn about this virus in order to provide us with a path "back to normal."
In the meantime, we are going to have to practice patience. I know. New Orleanians are only patient for one thing: a Mardi Gras parade. We will sit for hours waiting for one to come. But we don’t sit there moping, angry, and depressed. We wait in a spirit of community and connection with our family, friends and neighbors. Maybe that could be our inspiration as we anticipate the return of a time when we can again celebrate festivals, sit down in our favorite restaurants and bars, and sing together in the pews of our church. We can use this time of waiting to be creative about how we congregate and connect.
We continue to be one church, but for now, we need to think about being one church made up of many small groups. Almost anything we would be doing in larger numbers can be adapted to a small group format -- learning, praying, serving others, and having fun. Small groups can more easily follow public health guidelines, and can be formed around particular safety concerns and needs. One group may be comfortable meeting in person on a front porch or backyard to watch a Sunday morning service together. Another may need to stay in touch through a text thread or zoom meeting. Some could organize ministry projects that could be carried out in person or remotely. I know we have the imagination to make this work, but it will take everyone’s active participation. This is an invitation for you to organize with others. As our mission instructs us, showing up for God, and for each other.
If you need an ear to bend because life has been stressful, please call me anytime at 504-357-8211. In the meantime, we don’t have to wait for “back to normal” to resume living out our mission. Come on friends. We miss each other. Let’s figure this out.