Jesus once said that “you cannot put new wine into old wineskins, or they will burst.” He meant that the new dimensions of knowing God and being God’s people that he was revealing, were too expansive to be fully contained in the former traditions and rituals. As we have been transitioning from the fully virtual worship format used during the pandemic state of emergency, through the Summer Open Air Worship services and now to our Regathering in the sanctuary for worship, it has seemed like we have been constantly trying to create new wineskins that will “hold” our evolving forms of worshiping together. It feels good to finally be praying and praising God again in our beloved church sanctuary, but there are noticeable differences from the old pre-pandemic order of worship. Pretty much anything that involves “passing”—such as Passing the Peace, passing the offering plates or Communion plates, and passing the microphone for sharing announcements—are suspended for the time being. Yet, new ways of enjoying worship are appearing! On the last Sunday of each month (beginning October 31) there will be a pre-worship Hymn Sing at 9:15. Chris will take requests from the congregation for favorite hymns to be sung (one verse) before worship begins at 9:30.
In the midst of changes to the old order, a new sense of this congregation’s resiliency has been emerging. As confidence in the safety measures implemented for indoor, in-person worship has risen, familiar (even behind their masks) faces I have not seen in over a year have been reappearing! Others are watching the recorded services from the safety of homes until they are also ready to return. Our ability to adapt new wineskins to contain our precious sense of community has been a challenge, but a challenge to which our ongoing response continues to be characterized by faith and steadfast hope.
Grace and Peace,