“You know we’re not going to be able to safely have congregational singing for the next 2 years, right?”  Those were the words uttered by a minister friend that sent me into a bit of a tailspin this week.  My mind began to race.  What article did she read that said it’s 2 years for sure?  (For the record, our Reopening Team read this article from The Atlantic recently where Donald Milton [an environmental-health professor at the University of Maryland] related that groups shouldn’t gather again to sing in person until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 becomes widely available, even if that takes years.)  So my friend may have read a similar article.  And it’s a lot to take in.

It makes me wonder what will in-person worship services look like without congregational singing if it comes to that?  What about choir (I sing in the choir!)?  As you can imagine, these are the questions that keep ministers and music directors up at night right now.  The same with Christian educators.  How do you have Sunday School in the midst of a global pandemic?    

Maybe you’ve had moments of late where you’ve hit a wall too.  How do you have graduation and social distance?  Will there be online learning come fall?  Is there a way to safely vacation this summer?  What’s going on in our country, and what’s the best path forward?  A flurry of questions that don’t have clear and concrete answers. 

Rev. Don Remick (one of the Bridge Conference Ministers of the Southern New England Conference UCC) wrote a moving blog post about this recently called, “I Don’t Want To Do This Anymore!?”  I commend the whole post to you, though here’s part of what he wrote:

“I don’t want to do this anymore!?

In the last several weeks I’ve heard this phrase several times.  Sometimes it comes directly from individual clergy.  More often it comes from our Conference staff who have sat, in one of many ZOOM rooms, to deeply listen to the personal and professional challenges facing clergy and ministries these days. 

And as time goes on, the voice becomes louder, more poignant and more common.

I don’t want to do this anymore!?  

It’s a statement.  It’s a witty comment.  It’s a question.  It’s a plea.  Its tinged with shame, inadequacy, and sadness, and weariness. 

First it was Easter.  Then May day. Then Mother’s day. Then Pentecost. Then Baccalaureate Sunday,  children’s Sunday, youth Sunday, choir Sunday, confirmation Sunday. 
It’s funerals without a gathering. It’s weddings postponed.  
It’s worship going out live or recorded or over the phone or mailed to parishioners. 
It’s ‘feedback’ on worship going out live or recorded or over the phone or mailed to parishioners . . .”

Rev. Remick goes on from there to talk about burn out and compassion fatigue, he speaks about the importance of self-care in the midst of all we are facing.  In the end, I think that many of us are reaching those moments these days, when we just don’t want to do this anymore.  On those days, what’s getting you through?  Just something to think about this week.  And remember that God is with you and all of us as we face this, together. 

Pastor Lauren 

(This Week’s Thoughts 6.18.20)