Being a Pastor During a Pandemic: The Relaunch Edition

Being a Pastor During a Pandemic: The Relaunch Edition

A few weeks ago, I offered some reflections on serving as a pastor during a pandemic. I shared about how this season has been odd and difficult. I yearn for the experiences of odd and difficult, now, as we prepare to consider what does it mean to relaunch in-person activities.

I find myself in a place of constant stress, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion as we begin to consider what does it mean to gather back together once more.

Certainly, I never imagined that two months after shutting down in-person activities that we would still be in this place. I never imagined we would go two months without sharing the sacraments together. I never imagined we would go two months without a lot of the essential activities of community. My worst-case scenario began to play out Sunday of being out through Mother’s Day. My ultimate worst-case scenario is becoming a heartbreaking reality of not being together on my last Sunday, which is only a few weeks away. Continue reading “Being a Pastor During a Pandemic: The Relaunch Edition”

Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic

Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic

That was odd.

A feeling of oddness was about the only one I could muster after watching myself preach and lead our Easter Sunday worship. It was odd being able to worship with my family who, admittedly, were either half awake after being up all night with our newborn or were too interested in the tablet to watch. It was odd seeing myself preach on Facebook. I hate the sound of my own voice, by the way. That was odd being at the cemetery, before the sun came up, to prepare for our sunrise Facebook live feed.

This whole thing has been odd.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is like to lead during a pandemic. Odd is about the only word I can use to describe what it is like, for me, to be a pastor this moment. There is no rule book or guidance on how to do what we are doing. We’re all trying to make the most of it and proclaim God’s name through new and unique means, which I believe is taking place. Continue reading “Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic”

New Life, New Creation

New Life, New Creation

Throughout my life and ministry, I can remember several unique and memorable Easter celebrations. I remember the first time I served as a lay reader on Easter Sunday. Not only was I to read the lectionary passages for the day, but I was also asked to help serve communion, So, there I was with the assistant pastor, a friend of mine, when someone tried to take the cup and drink out of it. I lost it. It wasn’t how we did things around there, though in other traditions that would have been acceptable.

There have been times, too, as a pastor that have been joyous. My first Easter Sunrise as a pastor I remember smelling the food coming out of the kitchen and getting hungrier and hungrier as I spoke. There was the time at Claylick that people thought I had forgotten the service when I wasn’t there at my usual 30 minutes before the service. And there was a couple years ago at my last appointment when we were planning a 200th anniversary a few weeks after Easter and wondering if we had the strength to do both well.

What I remember, as well, are the moments of tension of wanting everything to glorify God, and, as well, to make people happy. Much of our Easter services are a pageantry of the holy name of God. A show on our biggest day of the year, because we believe the grandeur of the importance of an empty tomb requires all the bells and whistles. Too often, I get lost in those elements, making sure everything is right, to the point that when I get home on Easter Sunday I am not filled with hope, but overwhelmed with exhaustion.

We approach, then, what will certainly be a memorable Easter celebration in our lifetimes. Not since the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 have churches closed their doors in order to provide safety for their people and others during a health crisis. We will continue to be closed until such time that it is safe to be back together. This is a unique time, and perhaps we are wondering if we can really celebrate Easter without the bells and whistles and, truly, without being in the church.

Perhaps, just maybe, the lack of the bells and whistles, the full regalia of the day, will allow us the possibility to hear the story of Christ’s resurrection in a new way. A way that will relaunch us into being Easter people, filled with the hope of the resurrection, and confident in knowing that Christ is alive even in times like today. Perhaps, just maybe, we can give our full attention not to the grandeur, but to the simplicity of the message and the mission that is before. Continue reading “New Life, New Creation”

Maundy Thursday Reflection

Maundy Thursday Reflection

We have entered the holiest weekend on the Christian calendar. Perhaps, it is one that comes to us not as we expected.

For one, we find ourselves disconnected physically, but emotionally and spiritually connected to one another. Throughout this season of our shared lives together, I have given thanks, and continue to do so, for the gift of technology that allows us to be in worship with one another while we are distant from one another. Tonight, on this night of reflection, we do so in our homes and, truly, around our city, state, and world to reflect upon the meaning of this night.

Yet, personally, this is a night that I did not expect to be sharing with you. We expected this to be the day our son, Thaddeus, was born, and plans were in place to allow me to be at the hospital and prepare for Easter. Obviously, when Thaddeus was born last week and the health crisis came upon us those plans were changed. Continue reading “Maundy Thursday Reflection”

Hope for Today

Hope for Today

This past week, it seems like our current situation and the health crisis we are experiencing has become more real. We have experienced a lot of changes over these last few weeks, but for some reason, this week, it has sunk in that we are in for a long battle and not a short-term halt to daily life.

We’ve seen confirmed cases, based upon testing, of the coronavirus top the triple digits in West Virginia. We’ve heard of the first confirmed case in Cabell County. We’ve heard stories of nursing homes in Morgantown with multiple cases. We’ve heard of hospitals in our region running short on necessary supplies. We’ve seen orders for non-essential businesses to close for an unknown period of time. We’ve seen school closures extended. We’ve seen phrases like “stay in place” and “social distancing” become part of our common vernacular.

Life does not seem normal. When we travel out and about, we witness an eerie quiet that is symbolic of where we are today. Walking to the store becomes a challenge of trying to stay six feet apart. We’ve seen our lives changed and we’re not sure when any semblance of normal will return. We’re looking for a day, perhaps even a particular day to return, yet deep down we’ve come to realize life is going to be altered for longer than we had expected as we seek to provide care to the most vulnerable among us. Continue reading “Hope for Today”