What is it we are looking for these days of the hottest summer in my memory? The heat has sucked all my energy and driven me to give up walking until it breaks. I know I’ve been looking for several things. A return to normal just might be one of those items we’d all like to experience. Sure, we have begun the process of returning to normal in the heat and as Covid stubbornly hangs on, or perhaps it’s the people who won’t get the jab for what seems to them as reasonable, but to me so very foolish, for any return to normalcy to truly happen.
Many of us have returned to church in a live fashion. And I’m sure you’ve noticed some things are different. Yes, certain aspects are back, while others like sharing the peace or perhaps singing are not quite there yet. We’ve adapted the way we have received communion in my congregation so that it now feels safe, but I admit to missing real bread and I’m now very sure that my favorite way to receive the wine, which has always been the common cup, will pretty much disappear from our safe communion practices. Still, I assume that Christ is truly present and that I will eventually adjust to a new normal. This is especially true since no longer am I serving as pastor and am a member just like most of you who are reading this.
You see whatever we wish or perhaps even pray for these days will be different than what has gone before. Change, which all Lutherans ‘love” so much, has taken up permanent residence in our lives and the speed of it makes my head swim sometimes.
Perhaps it’s because I feel like I’ve been in transition for the past 7 years now as my life has radically changed. Relationships I took for granted have ended, blown up, or just drifted away and that’s been very hard for me, so I assume they’ve been just as hard for all of you as well.
I have always been a seeker of deep relationships. I have enjoyed meeting new people and hear their stories of life, love and what moves them. Now I admit that desire has sometimes kept me in relationships that are no longer healthy, but still, it’s one of the things I hope will still exist as we move into our new reality. I’m a people person and the isolation of Covid has been difficult for me to handle at times and one more Zoom Meeting was never the solution for me.
Yet it is difficult because of something I heard from a friend and colleague recently. Her words could have been said by any of the pastors I know. She said, “I’m weary. Really, really weary.” She and every pastor and leader I know is in the middle of the bone weariness as they try to move into the future. Yes, they are looking to the future, not the past. The past can inform us, but I believe this is a time to let go of some practices that may not be truly healthy and only increase our weariness.
I am hopeful that every one of you will recognize that weariness in your pastors and leaders. This may be the hardest thing they have ever had to do in their serving, and no one has provided them a roadmap for moving forward. Some will be more cautious than others, some will be bold in making decisions, some will seek a middle ground. Be kind to them, recognize the difficulty that each decision can be. Pray for them, listen carefully to what they are saying and proposing. Treat each other with care. Give each other permission to rest, to hopefully recover from this terrible time of heat and sickness. Remember the words of Jesus.