As summer approaches, our congregation continues to face new transitions. I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to see people returning to worship. It’s also humbling to hear and see individuals reaction after being able to worship in person for the first time in over a year. And even though our worship isn’t exactly like it was before the pandemic. The familiar is returning slowly. But this has got me thinking of at least two questions. The Church Planning Council spent some time reflecting on these questions at their April meeting but we also want to hear from you. Here are the questions: What’s one thing about church life that you have missed the most over the past year? What’s one thing that you think you should miss about church life but you don’t actually miss it? I’m using the term “church life” because the thing you miss or don’t miss may be about worship, fellowship, education, or something else.
The second thing on my mind is the anxiety that many of your are feeling. This pandemic has left many of you alone or only with one other person to talk to on a daily basis. This has left a lot of time to fixate on the news or on your own thoughts and fears. As we begin to move back into society, a lot of you are feeling anxiety. This is to be expected. Change is hard. And even though it seems like this change should be easier because it’s going back towards “normal.” But it is still change and it will bring about many different emotions.
Be gentle with yourself, when you feel the anxiety rising up breathe slow and deep, find ways to keep your mind busy so that you don’t fixate on the negative or the things you can’t control. I also encourage you to reach out to others. Many are feeling anxious and hearing of others struggles can make make your own struggles feel a bit more “normal.” On the 4th Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, we are reminded of God’s abiding love for us through Jesus Christ. We hear the assurance in the Psalm that even when we walk through the darkest valley “You are with me.” From the Gospel, we hear that we are all part of one flock. And as such, we have one shepherd. It is the voice of the one shepherd that we are called to listen to and draw us away from the other voices that might distract us and lead us astray.
If you are struggling with anxiety or just not feeling like yourself—reach out. Talk to a friend, a loved one, one of your pastors, but know that Christ abides in you and walks with you no matter how dark the valley may seem.