We had hoped to worship together in person on Sunday the 23rd of January. We had hoped to meet in the nave at St. Luke’s, masked and keeping a reasonable distance from each other, while still livestreaming the Eucharist to those of us who couldn’t be present.
The Covid indicators looked OK—still high, thanks to the Omicron variant, but no longer climbing astronomically.
But it was January. And this January brought snow and ice, and with those wintry realities came concern for the safety of parishioners and staff traveling to church.
So, with in-person and livestreamed Eucharist out of reach, we did something different: we prayed the Liturgy of the Word together on Zoom. About 35 or 40 of us gathered at our regular time on Sunday morning. Your senior warden, Lisa D’Amico, valiantly served as “Zoommaster,” minding the digital door and running the meeting smoothly. The congregation prayed everything from the collect of the day through the peace together using the bulletin our administrator Kathy had carefully prepared for the Eucharist we had planned to celebrate. Eileen Morgan and I alternated prayers, readings, and responses out loud, while everyone else, muted on Zoom, spoke their parts at home. Knowing that fellow Christians in many places were celebrating the Eucharist while we could not, and knowing that Jesus Christ is present when we gather in his name, we offered the prayer for spiritual communion from the St. Augustine’s Prayer Book.
I missed celebrating the Eucharist together. I missed taking communion—as many of you have missed it over the last few weeks, too, or maybe even over many months. I missed being in the same room with my fellow Christians, feeling the warmth of people gathered together into a room, hearing a variety of voices praying in unison (and sometimes just slightly out of step, a reminder that we’re human beings, not robots). I look forward to experiencing all of that, soon.
But I enjoyed some things about our Zoom liturgy, too. I liked the fact that we all gathered at the same time, live although not in person. I was grateful for the technology that enabled us to do this. I appreciated the prayers of intercession and thanksgiving that participants typed into the chat box so we all could offer them together. And I enjoyed moving directly from our worship time to fellowship—after a few minutes’ break so everyone who wanted coffee or tea could go prepare it. The fellowship group even included a dog and a cat, always a bonus, in my opinion.
We gathered. We prayed. We updated each other on ourselves and on friends going through hard times. We laughed, and we shared snow stories and tales of Covid pastimes like jigsaw and word puzzles.
It will be good to be together in person when we can, once again. I may cry the first time I preach to a congregation of dozens, or drop the Body of Christ into hand after hand. That gathering will be a joy.
And this one carried its own blessings, too. In spite of everything. Thanks be to God.
Interim Rector Rhonda M. Lee