Joni Mitchell once sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”  Those are some wise words.  That’s a lesson that we may be learning time and again as the pandemic continues to affect our lives. 

One example of this not knowing what we’ve got ’til it’s gone I was contemplating recently was worship.  Worship is an inherently participatory experience.  When we worship, we don’t just sit and be entertained by what the worship leader is providing.  After all, we are there to worship God together.  We have call and response prayers.  We have unison prayers said together.  We sing hymns together.  We pass around an offering plate and share our monetary gifts.  We pass around a microphone and members of the congregation ask for prayers in their own words.  We are all worshiping God in our own ways, together.  We are praying, singing, giving, learning, and growing in faith together.  

Now that the covid numbers have gotten worse in our community, our state, and our country, as we face what some public health experts are calling a “surge upon a surge” after Thanksgiving—we are back to Virtual Worship and will be for some time.  For those who haven’t been attending worship in person, it may not feel that different.  But it’s certainly different for the worship team and those who were able to attend some Sundays of late.  Simply put, everything remains complicated and I do miss our congregation gathered together for worship.  

My “thought” this week is to simply name these realities and offer some ideas to help all of us participate in worship fully from afar.  Now that Advent has begun, have an Advent wreath that you light during the service whenever you watch.  You can make it simple, even just have one candle that you light to commemorate the theme of that Sunday.  We have peace, joy, and love left to experience together.  Let that worship theme sink into your heart.  This Sunday is a Communion Sunday, so have some elements on hand to be blessed, to eat and drink and remember.  When the hymns are sung, sing along!  We haven’t been able to sing as a congregation since March.  But how beautiful our individual voices must sound to God right now when we sing the songs of our faith in these difficult days.  Even if we are a little off-key, no worries, really!

So maybe we don’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone. 
But the good news is that worship has never been gone, not since we all had to begin living this new normal in March and not now either.
We continue to worship God, no matter what and no matter where.
May you feel the hope, peace, joy, and love of this sacred Advent season.

Pastor Lauren 

(This Week’s Thoughts 12.3.20)