A year can be defined in many ways.
There is the calendar year that runs from January 1 to December 31 that serves as the marker for our days. There is the academic year that includes the time students are in school. A year is a specific marking of time that help us to frame our life and communities.
As such, we have concluded the first COVID-19 year. March 11, 2021 marked the one year point since our lives were first affected by the ongoing pandemic. For many, March 11, 2020 – the day the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic involving COVID-19 – was something occurring in the distance. Its realities had yet to affect day-to-day life other than ending the NCAA basketball tournaments. For many, including myself, it would be another 24-48 hours before we were immediately impacted as schools, businesses, churches, and, truly, life were put on hold to deal with the pandemic.
Throughout this pandemic year, we have adapted to new forms of community and life. We have become all-too-familiar with the inner workings of Zoom. Delivery services, such as Doordash and Instacart, have provided an option for people to support local businesses from their homes. We have grown accustomed with keeping distance, while also trying to do what we can to visit family and friends.
We have adapted within the church. I never imagined that March 1, 2020 would be the last time I preached without any modifications to our communal life together in worship. The following week we implemented a limitation on physical expressions in worship, followed by an encouragement to stay home, and, then, a full stop to in-person worship for a season. In the midst of the pandemic, I moved to a new congregation and I have been proud of how they responded and adapted in moving to a two-campus expression of life. This Sunday (March 14, 2021) will be the first time that congregation was worshiped in-person in a year. It will be a holy day.
We have struggled with our emotions throughout this pandemic. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed how small things affect people more than perhaps a year ago. This includes myself, perhaps, more than anyone. It is understandable. When you are living in continual stress, it affects the mind’s ability to process moments thus creating moments when things escalate quickly over insignificant moments.
Through it all, we have been challenged in ways that, I pray, will be for the better. We have been challenged in an individualistic culture to put the needs of others ahead of our own. We have been challenged to contemplate upon what sources of information we are hearing and whether it is true. We have been challenged to consider if they way things have always been should be the ways things always will be.
We have made mistakes along the way. We are, truly, learning as we go.
Yet, through all the challenges that this pandemic year has brought up perhaps it hasn’t been all that bad. Perhaps it has truly been a moment of living out our faith in God, to love our neighbor, and keep each other safe.
If even one life has been saved by all that we have done this year, then I give thanks to God for the challenges and rejoice in the pandemic year, even with all its difficulties.