Every week in worship, my tiny congregation shares our joys and concerns, and we pray about them together. Yesterday’s sharing included a LOT of joy: birthdays, work wins, bodies healing, the power of vulnerable sharing, and vaccinations.
One person shared that since they’d recently been fully vaccinated, they were able to give blood, volunteer at vaccination clinics and help out at the church workday, all in one week. It was, they said, the most satisfying week they’d had in a year.
There is a lot of conversation around what will change for us, both individually and collectively, now that vaccination campaigns are ramping up and being out and about is becoming safer. Folks are talking about when they’ll eat inside a restaurant again, when they’ll feel comfortable traveling, whether or not work-from-home will continue to be an option. I have barely begun to imagine post-pandemic life, even though my own personal time-table is now set at a short, six-week window. I know I want to hug my family, wander Target aisles more leisurely, without the 15 minute timer ticking in my head, and write a sermon in my favorite coffee shop (or, at least on their patio!).
But what if we began to think about post-pandemic life in more collective ways, like what we’ll be freed to do *for others* or *together*? The joy of being able to serve shared in worship yesterday was a helpful re-framing invitation. I realized that once I’m fully vaccinated, I’ll feel much more comfortable volunteering INSIDE at the Food Hub and not only outside in their garden. I started making a list of people from church that I want to schedule in-person pastoral visits with – probably still on porches and patios, but in person nonetheless. Maybe this summer will bring opportunities for me to show up at community organizing meetings or collective actions – things that I had felt a little wary of one year ago, but feel compelled to get involved in, now.
In addition to planning our joyful summer barbecues and picnics, finally freed from the isolation of the last year, maybe we can also start to think about what we learned and how we can put that into practice. Freed to start showing up, again, let’s be intentional about how and where we do it – not only for the sake of risk mitigation but also for the sake of mutual survival.
More people are hungry now than they were one year ago: how can we show up to address that problem? More people are in poverty than were one year ago: how can we show up in ways that support economic justice? People are lonely and struggling: how can we re-gather in ways that nurture spaces for honest vulnerability and genuine community? Our country’s political system is a MESS: how can we work together toward creative alternatives?
I am looking forward to eating inside a restaurant again. But I am also deeply convicted that the newfound freedom of the fully vaccinated is also to be leveraged into real, tangible change so that none of us will have to live through emergencies alone, isolated and abandoned ever again.
“You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love.” (Galatians 5:13)