A Year

This week, last year, pandemic land emerged. This very day in 2020, March 8, was the day we had a nurse in our congregation get up and talk about mitigation strategies, and the first time we enacted a no-contact passing the peace. As I recounted last week, there was a sense of impending dread growing all around me–and this week last year the hammer fell. While pandemic land has been terrible, I also have to remember the blessings I experienced this past year. Recounting them doesn’t retcon 2020 and say, “Oh it was actually rather wonderful, now that I think of it.” 2020 sucked, but even in the most awful of times goodness and beauty can be found. They can never been destroyed because goodness and beauty are what this world really is 1.

I got to pick up some old hobbies and renewed some old friendships by joining a D&D game.

My family ate meals together a least a few times a week, which is something we’d found difficult as our older two kids emerged into young adulthood.

We figured out ways to stay connected to our neighbors–outdoor drinks, social distance chats around a fire pit, internet games 2, and even a D&D campaign.

I got to welcome back my friend and ministry partner, as well as his family, to the country after a years long struggle to be approved for permanent residency.

Bump thinks it’s normal to have everyone in the house, and still loves the family even though we’re all stir-crazy.

I learned several new pieces of software, picked up a streaming camera, and a bunch of new hardware for streaming and video capture.

I decided to start my first YouTube channel with regular content, and try to build a brand around it 3.

I sat down and began to write the sequel to Penny Gnomes.

I got to be a sounding board for some other pastors who’ve struggled during this year of pandemic land.

I was privileged to experience Central Baptist caring for one another without needing to be prompted by me. Phone visits, care packages, an embrace of mitigation strategies, a commitment by a key musician to contribute to our worship stream, new ways of pursuing things like choir and visitation, and innovative ways to both give and receive hospitality have been woven though the congregation. And, while the weight of pursuing pastoral ministry in pandemic land has been horrendous 4, it’s been a wonder to watch this congregation move.

It’s those good things which helped me navigate the loneliness and anxiety of such a terrible year.

  1. Which is what makes evil so awful, it’s undermining what the world should be. It’s also why I am so infuriated when Christians embrace evil and call it good. “Have fun storming the castle” is a line from a movie, folks, not a basis for Christian living. 
  2. Alexa Taboo. It didn’t work great but we tried. 
  3. The Church channel doesn’t count. First, it’s not a brand no matter what some folks might claim. Second, as much as I love Central that’s a “work thing.” DM Tales is a personal pursuit. 
  4. The endless second-guessing and concern that you’ll end up, out of a desperation to show compassion, causing someone to catch a potentially deadly disease has been a difficult burden. When the pandemic is over I expect a flood of pastoral retirements to be announced.