Thursday, January 14, 2021

'Twas the Month Before Covid

We have all been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in our own ways. As the months have passed it has been amazing how we and our congregations have discovered new ways of being the church. The work never stops, it just transforms. And God is always there.

In the past, online resources were seen as luxuries used by larger churches with more resources. Today we all rely on digital tools to do our work. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Zoom and Livestream are no longer a mystery, but words that populate our daily vocabulary and help us do our ecclesial work. Small and rural churches, more than ever before, have been reminded that distance is not an obstacle, but a fact of life that we have worked around. Even when we cannot safely visit in the homes of our members, we have found a way to bring the church into their homes on a regular basis, in worship, Bible study, Sunday School, Virtual Coffee Hours, and dozens of new creations that enable us to do our work and encourage the recognition of God's presence in our everyday lives.

Someday (soon hopefully) the virus will be but a memory. But the steps we have taken to build the church and the new tools that we find at our disposal will continue to be a part of our work and worship.

Last month I wrote a satirical poem about our life with the virus as a way of helping our church to celebrate the victories we have had during this difficult time. It was meant to be fun and a little bit silly, but when the service was done it felt that we had done exactly what God wanted us to do that day.  

With apologies to Longfellow and Dr. Seuss and anyone else who takes poetry seriously, I thought I would share it with you today. 

‘Twas the Month Before Covid

             by Skip Shaffer

‘Twas the month before Covid came and all through the town,
Nothing new was really happening, not a thing going down.
We were all quiet as we lived on our own,
After Christmas and New Years no virus had shown.

It’s amazing how much you take for granted in life,
Until you are separated from your kids and your wife.
Along came the Super Bowl and we started to hear,
That a virus from China had found its way here.

By the end of February so many were sick,
That by the middle of March we were in it too thick.
We were closed down real tight, like a people embargo.
Unless you were a protestor or the mayor of Chicago.

No restaurants, no parties, no large groups or closed spaces,
No workouts, no gyms, and no working type places.
Worst of all came the news that our Worship was closed.
We had never seen such a time, when our faith was exposed.

Our church was closed down, our youth groups had no room,
And the only way we could really meet was by Zoom.
All the things that we loved, like mission trips and Green Lake,
Were cancelled for the first time, it was too much to take.

We had to wear masks and stay six feet away,
And even the session had no place to play.
Through Easter and confirmation and into the summer,
This church quarantine had turned into a bummer.

And then we discovered the most amazing thing,
That our faith didn’t need a sanctuary to ring.
We worshipped at home, we watched on TV,
Even though we were separated, there was so much to see.

The song leaders sang, and the instruments played.
The video and sound and tech guys all stayed.
The pastor, he read from that same Holy Book,
And he preached over and over ‘til it finally took.

Our communion was different, our confirmation recorded,
But the Spirit never let our faith be distorted.
The politicians they rambled, told stories and lied,
We didn’t believe them, no matter how hard we tried.

They told us the virus, it soon would be gone,
But it didn’t seem to really matter which one of them won.
The virus, it stayed, after the commercials were finished,
A vaccine is coming, we’re told, but our faith is diminished.

We still are kept out of our worshipping spaces,
Looking ahead to the day when we can see familiar faces.
Yet our God is stronger than the virus, we don’t lose our hope.
Through racism, elections, and murder hornets we cope.

The church remains strong, no matter what problems we face,
Our worship is faithful, in spite of the place.
That day will soon be here, if we can hang on,
Have hope. In just a few days, 2020 will be gone.

- Pastor Skip Shaffer
  Oswego Presbyterian Church
  December 27, 2020

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