A weird and wonderful Mother’s Day

A weird and wonderful Mother’s Day

I enjoy Mother’s Day at Chapel Hill. So do you, apparently, because it is always one of our better-attended services. Moms and grandmoms show up, beautifully arrayed. If ever hats will make an appearance in a Chapel Hill service, this is the day. So grand!

And of course, if EVER there is a day when that hapless male usual-non-attender will show up, this is the day! Dutifully seated next to his insistent wife or mom, bracing himself for the religious assault he is sure is coming! It’s always fun to spot these guys…and pretty easy. They have a wide-eyed look of muted fear. It’s also fun to watch them begin to relax when they realize no one is going to pounce. In many cases, this becomes a starting point for a new spiritual journey.

Alas, COVID has changed that rhythm this year, as it has disrupted so many things. No beautiful frocks, no grand chapeaus, and no nervously sweating dads! But there WILL be church. We ARE going to celebrate moms and who knows; maybe this lower-risk worship experience will be a spiritual starting point for even more reluctant men than normal.

I hope so. I promise, for our part, whether you “attend” our 9:00 am classic service or our 10:00 am modern service, the music will be beautiful and, I hope, the message fun and engaging. (I’m sure it will be fun, at least! So many stories to share!)

Of course, as good as our virtual church experience might be, it is no substitute for being together. I’m hearing from many of you who long for the day when we will be able to sit and sing and pray and listen together. I’m with you…and that day will come!

But probably not for a while, yet. A limit of 250 people per gathering might work for a smaller church, but not as well for a church that worships 1,200 per Sunday. Beyond that, a significant portion of our congregation fall into the “higher-risk” category. They may still be reluctant to gather in larger groups and we have a responsibility to consider their needs. Further, young moms are less likely to put their babies in the nursery, despite the high degree of care and cleanliness that has ALWAYS been the hallmark of our Early Childhood ministry. 

If both these assumptions are correct, we would be regathering without two important segments or our congregation. I don’t want to do that. And we don’t have to. With the high-quality online options available, to those of all musical tastes, we can afford to take enough time to ensure that when we DO regather as a congregation, we can ALL do so and in reasonable safety.

I don’t want us to live in fear. Neither should we be foolish. We will bring our congregation back together as soon as it seems prudent. Meantime, we will continue to do everything we can to keep us connected as a church; as some people have told me, “more connected than I have ever felt to Chapel Hill.” I’m glad to hear it because we sure are trying!

Be safe, be smart, be hopeful…and I’ll “see” you in church this Mother’s Day!

Pastor Mark Toone