Rarely does March truly begin like a lion, but this year’s wind brings with it such promise for what is to come.

This weekend begins a new year of germination experimentation (for those keeping track, last year’s tomatoes were stellar, the peppers were not so hot). I’ve also managed to find my hummingbird feeder and have tracked down my feathered friends expected migratory arrival. I’ll begin planning when to direct sow in my patio planters – and this year will begin to focus on the garden at camp. 

This is the hope that is March. This year that hope is magnified by the images of folks getting vaccinated and colors on a map shifting from red to yellow. Longings that I’ve been able to keep at bay this past year push at my heart – soon, I tell myself, SOON! Soon I will be able to hug my parents and belt out hymns. Soon I will be able to meet folks over coffee and belt out hymns (can you tell I miss singing in church?).

But soon is not yet, at least not for me.

The timing of “soon” is a difficult one and needs to be based not on our impatience or the intolerance of others, but on reason.

Planting those peppers too early does not result in earlier peppers (trust me on this) and placing the hummingbird feeder out in March won’t magically draw those birds further north. Remember that the verse “For everything there is a season and a time and purpose under heaven” comes from a section of the Bible we refer to as Wisdom literature and at this time we would be wise to heed it.

“Soon” is not only vague and subjective but also highly contextual. We’ve all got a different vibe and a different sense of when it is appropriate to launch re-entry. Should the rate of vaccinations continue to increase, and we get ahead of the introduction of variants of the virus, well, “soon” may come… sooner. We’ve still got a couple of weeks before that information becomes solid enough to work with. Still, at some point the risk will be low enough for us to return to our churches and meetings over coffee. 

Until then, there are three types of discussions we need to have at this time. 

  • Decide what “soon” looks like (and how fact and reason drive that decision) as well as the different stages of soon. Singing will need to come later. 
  • Determine what may trigger the dreaded return to online-only worship. Seriously. Do this. I pray we won’t need it, but if we do, you’ll be happy you prepared for it.
  • Discern where God is calling your congregation to ministry in this new season and don’t assume it is the same as it was prior to the pandemic!

I’ll be hosting a Salon* on March 22nd at noon for folks (not just clergy!) who want to discuss the impact of the pandemic on our congregations and future ministry. We’ll look at what some folks who track trends are saying and then move to a conversation about how to respond. It’s one way to begin tackling that third question, and I invite you to some creative exploration of that work!

March winds blow in the promise of spring after what feels like a year of winter. Can you feel it in the air? 

Soon, my friends. Soon.

*an informal gathering usually held with harpsichord music and sherry… but given the circumstances will be held via Zoom.

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