Being grateful for the return to in person church

schools and even churches were closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, stores and restaurants have begun to open up again, albeit with restrictions. It feels as if things are starting to return to normal. However, while some stores and restaurants were able to open, churches remained closed. Many were forced to live-stream their services so families could watch from home. 

My own home church closed in March and began to stream their Sunday service on Facebook Live. We remained on Facebook Live until a few weeks ago, when we were able to meet for an outdoor service, and are currently having live indoor services with COVID restrictions in place. 

I’m currently employed to help my church with making bulletins and PowerPoint slides for its services. However, when quarantine began,  I no longer had a job at the church. It was just a few weeks ago that I was asked to come back and begin working again. When I began to make the bulletin, I realized the last time I have worked there was in March. I was making a bulletin for October. 

It had not occurred to me that I had been watching church from the comfort of my bed and pajamas for roughly 7 months until I came in to work. I’ve grown up in church all my life, and to not be able to physically attend church was very strange. It never really hit me that most churches had been closed so long. 

Church, to me, has always been a part of my Sunday morning routine. It’s been a place where I got to see those close to me. Typically, after a Sunday service a group of friends or family from church would always invite me to go out to eat. However, without any warning all of these Sunday norms stopped. COVID did not really disrupt my life, but it significantly disrupted my Sunday mornings. I had never not attended church on Sunday, with the exception of a few times I was out of town. 

It was strange to wake up five minutes before church. All I had to do was turn on my phone and click on the Facebook app and there was the service,  right on my screen. Admittedly,  I was starting to get used to rolling out of bed a few minutes prior to church starting and just having to open an app to watch. However, there was something about watching a service on my phone that seemed to lack meaning. At first it was enjoyable to stay in bed, but as the months went on I began to miss attending church in person. I longed to see my  community . 

When the day finally came that my pastor announced we’d be meeting in person, first with an outdoor service and the following Sunday with an indoor service , I was shocked. It felt like it had been an eternity since my church had met in person. There are many restrictions to meeting in person for our Sunday service, however. Masks need to be worn all the time, the chairs were spaced out 6 feet from each other, and the taking  traditional communion was modified to a prepackaged version. At times, it didn’t feel like I was really attending my church. There were so many restrictions that I almost didn’t want to attend. This wasn’t the church I had known all my life. 

Despite the restrictions and lack of an authentic  church feeling, I realized that being able to physically attend during this chaotic period of time is a blessing. Church may look different right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy its somewhat normal return. It is very easy to be upset and frustrated with the way the world looks right now, especially with the way churches have had to modify their services in the face of the pandemic. However, I’ve decided to put those things aside, and am grateful to see my church family on Sunday morning—even if it is done social-distancing style. 

Author: Nikki Campos | Editor-in-Chief

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