I’ve always had a pretty sketch relationship with Labour Day weekends. I don’t do transitions particularly well and Labour Day, for me, is an ALL CAPS point of transition on the calendar. And so, each year on the first Monday of September, I find myself dining on the same strange soup of mixed emotions. It typically bubbles away for a week or two in advance and the base ingredients consist of varying measures of gratitude, grief, anticipation and anxiety. The proportions of each change from year to year!
For most of us, Labour Day 2020 heralds an unprecedented point of spiritual transition as we anticipate experiencing in-person worship for the first time after almost six months of being physically apart from one another and physically absent from our church buildings. It’s only mid-July as I write these words but the soup is already on a slow simmer.
This year’s batch contains an abundance of gratitude! I am so thankful for the ways in which all of you have made it abundantly clear that the church has not “closed.” The life and work of Christ’s church didn’t stop during this time of pandemic; in many ways it has actually grown and expanded. I am in awe. God has gifted us to engage our discipleship in ways that I would have never thought imaginable.
It also contains a good portion of grief. I have so missed worshipping in the midst of a physical community. I so miss singing together, praying together and simply being together. I have experienced many moments of leaky eyes while worshipping over these six months. My tears of joy while taking delight in the abundance of beautiful and spirited online experiences have been salted with bitter tears that grieve the absence of that which I miss so much.
This year’s recipe includes a double measure of anticipation! I am so eager to resume parish visits; to see you and be with you in your church buildings. I want to smell church! I want to hear that wheezy organ! I want to sink into the welcoming embrace of our sacred spaces and share a collective sigh of thanksgiving with you. I can’t wait. It can’t come soon enough!
But fear is also a part of this year’s Labour Day mix. As confident as I am in the careful and considered preparations we have made to help us safely come together, I am fearful that our experience of worship might not be all that we might hope it to be. Actually, I know that to be the case. It’s going to look and feel very different. And that scares me a bit.
I also know that some of us are anxious and fearful for our physical health and well-being and, as such, will be reluctant to gather. And that’s ok. Take your time. Our return to church is going to be a process that will unfold over time and the measures that have been put in place to connect us in worship at a distance over these past months will and must continue. Your church will be there for you. Fear not!
So that’s my Labour Day soup for 2020. I suspect that yours has similar ingredients, but perhaps in different proportions. But thank God for divine seasoning! Regardless of what we’ve tossed in the pot, we can be assured that the Spirit’s seasoning will infuse the broth of our experience with rich nourishment, flavour and taste! Labour Day is coming, brothers and sisters! Let’s get ready to tuck in!