I’ll be the first to admit, I was hoping things would be returning back to normal by now. While I’m very happy that businesses and churches opened up back in May, this pandemic doesn’t seem to be losing steam. Whether this virus is just political, really that bad, or whether it’s fear that is making it worse, I don’t know. What I do know is that those things are out of my control. The only reality I can discern is that things won’t be returning back to normal anytime soon.
It’s probably time to start planning for a new normal instead of thinking this is a temporary adjustment. I like planning, but I was not planning for this. One of my dominant strengths is what Gallup calls Futuristic. People exceptionally talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. Admittedly though, I have been imagining a future without Covid or at least planning for it to be a slight annoyance like the flu. I have to accept the fact that it’s a little bit more than a slight annoyance and actually creating a fundamental shift in how we operate as a church.
I’ve been captivated by a statement written by Carey Nieuwhof from his blog titled Why Going Back To “Normal” Church Seems So Compelling and Can Be So Dangerous. He writes,
Going back to normal only works if:
Normal was working before
Normal still exists
Based on the metrics I published in last week’s bulletin, I’m pretty sure normal wasn’t working before and as I’ve written above, normal doesn’t exist anymore.
I have a sense that God is lending us an opportunity not to abandon the mission he gave us – to reach and grow more disciples for Jesus Christ – but to think and act in radically new ways and methods as church to accomplish the mission.
Practically speaking there are some Covid items we need to address before we accelerate on the mission. One is having a consistent plan for all Masses at both parishes. As Fr. Baumert wisely says, people are not coming back to church because they don’t feel safe to come back to church. What if we did our best to create and communicate a plan that helped people to know exactly what to expect when they came to Mass? The plan would include a consistent arrangement for the following: Servers, Lectors, and EMHCs, Communion Distribution, Music, Offertory Collection, Masks, and Sanitization. We’ll also set a date for reevaluation.
I hope by the next bulletin (20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 16th) to have the plan crafted and ready to publish after consulting with leaders from both parishes.
Let us continue to keep one another in prayer.
Fr. Jeff Lorig