Preparing for Worship – Abbey Adcox.
I recently attended the Evolving Faith Live Virtual Conference along with a dozen or so Wilshire members, and the encouragement and wisdom I received continues to stretch my mind and settle into my soul. Kate Bowler, historian at Duke Divinity School, spoke with great insight on “Befores” and “Afters” and reminded us that with the arrival of covid-19 into our lives, we are all now experts in Before and After.
I know I am not alone in longing to once again experience the Before of this pandemic. Family gatherings, hugs, lunch with co-workers and driving my kids to school are just a few of the things I miss. I could do without the near-constant risk assessment now required for everyday tasks and previously routine outings.
Attending church Before was filled with familiar faces greeting me at each door, teaching precious four-year-olds in Sunday School, and then settling into our family’s usual balcony pew for the 11 a.m. service.
Following worship, we might head to Community Hall for a meeting while our teens headed to Youth Choir. I find myself nostalgic for the Before and frustrated that we don’t know when it might once again be our now.
Bowler encouraged us to see the joy in the world as it is now, in this After. She calls us to lean into the “beautiful precarity” we are experiencing and to learn from it. The After gives us the space to ask God what is possible, what is the truth of today, and what promise does God have for us.
I see our Wilshire family doing this so well. Takeout meals and socially-distanced churchwide socials. Facebook Live lessons and weekly meditations on Instagram. A Zoom ordination service that was truly Holy ground. Church in the Lot—a new way to worship in a camp chair with our masks on, soaking in the sounds of the birds, the rustling wind in the trees and the cars whizzing by as they blend with hymns, poems and words of God’s promise. Beauty in the midst of precarity. Exploring the possibilities that abound in the here and now.
As we gather together to worship virtually, may we be open to the possibilities and promises present in this After.