In the Interim – May 2020 by Rev. Marlene Walker

Our May Soul Matters Theme of “Thresholds,” and the above reading were chosen months before we ever heard the term Covid 19. I find myself moved by how prescient they are for this threshold time we are all inhabiting. We have been resting on a threshold for two months now, as we have learned to be sheltered in place, to do things in new ways. The world, “the normal” we knew two months ago is gone. We are in our homes, mostly, we can’t see and hold loved ones, we can’t gather in our precious building for worship, how we do business is changed. So, we sit on this threshold not knowing what the new ‘normal” will look like. Knowing only that it will be new. As the reading says,
“But what if the true invitation of a threshold is not to successfully move from here to there, but instead to just sit and pause? What if we saw thresholds as resting places rather than as those moving walkways that transport us through airports? What if thresholds help us “become” by asking us to just “be” for a while? No moving. Just noticing and naming. Less traveling and more listening.”
I know its not easy. I like to have answers. I like to plan. I like to know some things will stay the same. But this is a time for us to just be, to find new ways of being, new ways of connecting, new ways even to worship. While we don’t know yet what that all will look like, we do know it will not look like it was. This time, this experience, this threshold has changed us, as all threshold times do. And again from our reading,
“A [threshold is] a space to imagine a new way, and new self. Not moving or pushing but sitting and cultivating… [the goal] is to allow you space and time to reflect on your past, present, and future. To imagine a new beginning…”
One of the imaginings we have been doing is about how worship can be done. We have been experimenting and learning how to do online worship with the tools we have. We have been using Zoom for our Sunday worship as well as at other times for meeting and connecting. We do not have the hardware or technology to livestream worship from our Sanctuary nor would it be safe to do so. So we continue to experiment and work with Zoom.
What we have learned is that our usual format of worship does not work in Zoom. Like some of you I really, really (and I really mean really) miss being in the sanctuary and looking out at all your faces. I miss Leann’s Messages For Ages and the children coming forward and giving us a blessing. Preaching to a lap top screen does not quite move me in the same way. I miss the music and the hymns and the felt presence of all of you. For the most part those things cannot work the same way on Zoom. And yet, Zoom has opened us up to new ways of connecting and worship.
Our solution has been to create online web based services that do follow our typical order of service. You can access them on our OBUUC webpage and in our FB group. I encourage you to do so. You can do them whenever fits your schedule and you can do them more than once.
Still, OBUUC is a community of deeply connected beloveds, so during this time, when social distancing is creating loneliness and isolation, we are using Sunday morning to maintain our community through check-ins, joys and concerns, and announcements, in the hope of keeping our people connected to each other. And some Sundays we will attempt to follow something close to our usual worship order, though it will not be quite the same. Sadly, we’re unlikely to return to a “regular” service until it is safe for all of our members and friends, regardless of age, to join together within the church building. And even more sadly that is unlikely to be possible for quite some time yet.
Interestingly our attendance on our weekly Sunday Zoom worship services is higher than our average attendance had been in the sanctuary, so even when you can be back in the sanctuary you will probably want to continue to do some form of online worship.
So, we continue to rest here on this threshold, in this threshold time. Figuring it out. One day at a time. Together. Always together.