We don’t know what’s going to happen this week, next week, or by this time next year. Sometimes this is for the best because we couldn’t take it, or it would be distracting. Sometimes it feels terrible to imagine what could happen, and so we don’t think about it unless we are Walking Stress Storms.
In my first parish, the local funeral director made a habit of phoning me at the beginning of the new year and asking me to bet him on his predictions about who would die that year. You read that correctly.
He called and literally said, “Here’s the list of who I think will die this year. Are you in?”
I was not in.
This is the same funeral director who would call me after a member passed and say, “Guess who died?” I did not want to guess. “You won’t believe it,” he would continue. “Just guess.“
It must be hard to be a funeral director in a tiny town.
As a pastor to pastors in 2021, I am trying to imagine what this year will bring to our congregations, especially if the pandemic ends. It’s quite possible that in January 2022 we will still be standing in line for vaccines. Or maybe we will need new vaccines for new strains of COVID-21. Assuming we will be able to meet face-to-face safely again, I’m venturing to guess that:
- Congregations will offer both in-person and virtual gatherings ffor the rest of our lives.
- About half of our pre-2020 in-person participants will “return” to worship and other events.
- Those who found community in other congregations besides their own during Covid will continue to engage with those other congregations while staying with their “home church.”
- Lots of churches will close, especially if they could not bring themselves to become 21st Century churches by 2020 (which is already 1/5 of the way through the 21st Century.)
- Churches will call pastors who look nothing like all the other pastors before them in appearances or skill sets.
I could be wrong here, of course.
Stepping out in faith is scary. But what if we embraced the adventure of it? What if we ventured out – socially distanced, of course – expecting God to show us something we need to see?
In the meantime, please pray with me regarding what’s going to happen in our country this week and next week and this time next year. There will surprises and I trust God that each surprise will bring something good, at least in the long run.