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Space for Grace

As we move into the summer months with warmer weather and summer schedules, we also move into a big shift in the pandemic, at least those of us in the United States. After more than a year, COVID-19 infections rates are down and the number of those vaccinated continues to rise. As this happens more and more people are beginning to get back to something that looks like normal life. As this happens there are going to be a lot of moments big and small that will take some getting used to. Like many, you may be asking; How do we return to in-person life after more than a year of isolation?

Before the pandemic there was a common saying that was used among youth and young adults, FOMO (fear of missing out), but now it has been replaced with FONO (fear of normal). FONO can range from a continued fear of infection as offices, church buildings, and public locations open up, to being stressed about how to resume socialization with those outside your household. Exiting our COVID cave of safety might not be easy, even as we’ve been waiting patiently for the chance to get out.

Trauma has a way of doing that to us. We’ve lost more than 500,000 lives in this country alone. We’ve suffered unprecedented economic, social and emotional upheaval. And regardless of our individual pandemic experience, each of us has faced some level of loss, grief and despair. It’s no small thing.

With this in mind, as we inch towards a new normal, it’s important for us to recognize that everyone processes trauma differently. We’re all going to be filled with mixed emotions facing the new reality that we’re entering.  The next few months will involve changes for all of us, though not all those changes will involve feelings of relief! We can’t claim to know how others feel about “normal” just from their vaccination status or choice to return to work or worship.

We are in a fragile place and will be for some time. Which means we are all going to need a bit more grace and patience towards one another as we reengage in social life. We are going to need to give people a wide berth, forgiveness and latitude because as we journey together, not all are emerging at the same pace. And that’s ok.

As a congregation, we should all strive to be sensitive to the trauma and hold space for grace with our neighbor. As we move to indoor gatherings, let us demonstrate God’s unconditional love for all people. Let us use our God given gifts to care for one another’s physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being. As Paul writes in Ephesians, 

“lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jay Eckman