I remember back in the day when worship was so much better. We could sing and praise as we felt led. Everyone was welcome at church. We could enjoy rich, close fellowship. We could share coffee and donuts and talk about our lives around the table. We expressed our compassion by putting an arm around someone’s shoulder as they poured out their heart. Our children loved going to Sunday School and learning Bible stories from their teachers. We still have the crafts and lesson papers they brought home. Those were the good old days, B.C. (Before Coronavirus).
Now, we have to wear a mask when we go to church and we are required to sit six feet away from the next person. We have to plan ahead and register our attendance and hope there is still room for us. We have to rely on Zoom conversations instead of being close and present. We cannot share food and conversation before or after the worship service. There are no children’s programs because of all the restrictions and guidelines. Worship was so much better when we could pass the offering plate instead of putting it in a box by the door.
It’s just not the same. Worship was so much better before all this happened!
The complaints we feel today and the longing for yesterday is not new to this generation. Almost 2,500 years ago, a group of people expressed a similar anguish and longing for the past. The Jewish people built the first temple and dedicated it under the leadership of King Solomon. 400+ years later, the nation was carried off into exile and the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. After 70 years of exile, God allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. When the foundation was laid for the second temple, many of those who had worshipped in the first temple wept (Ezra 3:12).
It is very easy to fall into the comparison trap and give into the idolatry of nostalgia. On the one hand, we should grieve for what we have lost. On the other hand, we should give thanks that God is still in control. On the one hand, we should acknowledge that church and worship have to be done in a different manner than before. On the other hand, we can rejoice that God’s mercy is new every morning. On the one hand, we should mourn that life has changed and things are different. On the other hand, we can give thanks that we have a message of hope that we can share with the world. On the one hand, we can complain that we have to make one more change. On the other hand, we can rejoice that God is still in the business of changing hearts and lives.
Yes, the Coronavirus has changed how we do church and how we worship. But we still have much to praise God for.
We can weep or we can rejoice. Which will you do today?