When we reach this point of the year, we are usually giddy with anticipation over the promise and joy our summer events provide – longer days, warmer nights, outdoor activities, vacations, family gatherings, beach days, hiking/biking, swimming – and the list goes on and on!
We have worked hard all year at our jobs and in school, so we welcome summer as a reward for our perseverance and dedication. This year is no exception to that rule – we look forward to the simple pleasures of summer more than ever.
Many of us thought that 2020 was the year of Covid. We jubilantly said goodbye to it in January and the many challenges it held for all of us. Our homes became schools and places of business. They also doubled as fitness centers and places of worship. We broke bread, laughed, and cried from our humble abodes, not because we wanted to but because we had to.
Much to our chagrin, 2021 quickly became a year filled with its own issues and concerns. But as people of hope we did not lose faith, nor did we give up. No, instead we persevered and worked through every issue, obstacle, and roadblock this year has thrown at us thus far.
The challenges of 2021 have not broken us even if there have been moments when we felt as if we could not go on. In actuality, the events of 2020-21 have made us stronger. We emerged this Easter feeling more blessed and spiritually alive than we have in years. There is so much to be joyful about and we look forward with childlike anticipation and hope at all the future possibilities.
So where do we go from here? Is this point in history and in our lives – a beginning of something new and improved or an ending to loved and cherished traditions? Are our pre-Covid behaviors and lifestyles something we grieve, or are we excited to embrace our “new normal?”
As Christians, we have been at this point historically many times. Church history shows us that to build a strong faith and a united Church you need to endure the pangs of hardship and disappointment. We know that out of crucifixion comes resurrection! How do we move forward? How do we as individuals collectively focus on building a stronger community of believers? How do we get our friends and neighbors who have been defeated by Covid to return to the Church that will nourish them and bring them new life?
We do it by being an example to others of all that we want to see happen in our Church. We have to reach out and welcome others back in faith. We have to be willing to share ourselves and our experiences with others so they can see Christ alive and well in our world. We have to meet people where they are and accept and love them back into Church.
We have to take all the negative changes and turn them into positive learning experiences that help us grow. We have to embrace the new graces that arrived through our adversity. We have to no longer “go to Church,” we now need to be Church!