Delayed…but not forgotten
Of all the challenges COVID-19 has posed pastorally in these last eight months, the loss of human connection has been the hardest for me. Ordinarily, our deacons and pastors partner up to call on people in the hospital. It is all but impossible now. Often in the past, I have been called to a person’s deathbed to pray with them and their family. I’ve done so once this year and the process was like entering a radiation zone.
Perhaps most lamentable of all—literally—is that we have not been able to mourn and celebrate the lives of those who have gone to be with the Lord. Memorial services are limited to 30 in attendance, even though worship services may allow up to 200. I’ll admit, this distinction confounds me. Because Christian funeral services ARE celebrations of worship. In some ways, they are the distinctly Christian expression of our religious faith because we believe that death does not have the last word in the lives of those who belong to Jesus, our Champion over death and the grave.
But how can you say a proper goodbye with a cap of 30 people on the service? For many, the families alone fill that quota. And so, many who have lost loved ones in this last year have chosen to defer the memorial service until a more reasonable number can attend. At this point, we have eight on a “waiting list” for memorials, if you can believe it!
Well, delayed is not forgotten. This Sunday, St. Andrews Sunday, is our annual celebration of Chapel Hill members who have gone before us to Glory. And this year especially, we are going to highlight those who passed on in 2020. We will take a little more time with each name as we remember them individually in prayer. It still won’t be a proper memorial for our friends. But it will be a down payment. On a future service when we are freed up to celebrate. And even more, on a future celebration in heaven when ALL of God’s children can gather in praise and worship for the God who loved them, the Son who saved them and the Spirit who redeemed them.
All three of our services will be essentially the same in structure. And I’m pleased to say that our first three-Sunday service was well-balanced, thus allowing more and more people to return safely to in-person worship. Perhaps this will be the Sunday you return. 8:30 am (Classic) and 10:00 and 11:30 am (Modern).
And who knows…I might be a new grandpa by the time we meet together! I won’t be handing out cigars, but you’ll recognize me by the light of my smile that is beaming out from under my mask.
Don’t forget to wear tartan (plaid) in celebration of our Scottish roots. The bagpiper will appreciate it.