By Treena Duncan, Executive Minister
It’s hard to believe that today is the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. I remember that as we closed our places of worship, we were thinking we would be back and celebrating Easter. Who could have imagined that one year later we would be once again wondering if there is any chance we can re-open for Easter. We are in the second lockdown lent, which has been described as the ‘lentiest lent we have ever lented’!
You may be reflecting upon the multiple events that occurred within 10 days in March 2020 that significantly changed our world. On March 5, 2020, Alberta reported its first COVID-19 case. Soon after our Regional Office started issuing ever-changing guidelines for communities of faith until on the morning of March 16, the Regional Executive had to recommend communities of faith close to public worship. We hold up in prayer the families of the nearly 2,000 Albertans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and the approximately 137,000 individuals in this province who have had the virus over the past year.
Without exception, every person has faced a challenge or difficulty, and many have even felt overwhelmed during this past year. But along with the challenges, this pandemic has brought its gifts. As communities of faith, we have come together and found a way forward, not just surviving, but thriving! We have learned that our churches are more than just our buildings. We have taken bold actions toward justice by committing to becoming an anti-racist church and exploring becoming an affirming region. We have been living the call of the gospel by making sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable among us.
It’s natural for us to feel the weight of this time. The pandemic takes an emotional toll. Trauma is stored in the body at the cellular level. While our brains may try to forget, our bodies remember. You and those you work with may find yourselves weighed down and feeling some angst. Please remember that experiencing heightened anxiety is a natural, normal reaction to trauma. Together and in faith, we will get through this.
I encourage you to look for the moments of goodness and hope, and to see the abundance of God’s gifts in the midst of the challenge, because, through it all ‘we are not alone.’
While vaccination programs ramp up, I know there are some yearnings to gather as soon as possible and others carrying deep concern about how to manage a gradual return to in-person gathering. Many feel both these things at the same time. And I know that another Easter in virtual worship is not what any of us want. I believe you have offered exemplary leadership through the last year, that you are resilient, creative, and by God’s grace, you will find ways, once again, to journey through Lent and Holy Week with grace, and celebrate the resurrection full of hope again.
If you have any questions as we go through the coming changes, please do not hesitate to attend the town hall meeting and to consult with Chinook Winds Regional Staff or me.
In faith and hope,