Confession of a Pandemic Pastor

I hugged a little old lady last week. It was the first time she was in worship in a few months due to some medical issues. My first instinct upon her return was to hug her. How could it not be? She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and she was returning to God’s house for the first time in weeks. This was a reason to rejoice and be glad. Some of you won’t like that, some of you will think that upon hugging her I put her at risk of catching death. This is the state we live in, where normal responses of joy and love are an endangerment. But I did it. I hugged her. I would do it again. This is my confession. 

I will admittedly say, at the beginning of this whole pandemic there was this exciting fear of the unknown. There was this energy of moving forward, pressing onward into uncharted territory as we all navigated ways to minister with church doors locked and closed. This moment was the church’s time to shine and show them the light of the Gospel in new and accessible ways. Yet almost a year later this optimism and excitement has faded. I have seen hundreds of people sign on for worship from their homes fade to fifty or less. This is discouraging and often causes me to wonder if anyone cares. I know, of course, they do, but Satan works, and I stumble. This is my confession.

With every decision made there is opposition. It isn’t always expressed loudly, but instead in a whisper as someone walks by you after worship. It is in the comment section of the church livestream bemoaning bad internet connection. It is in the well-meaning comment about what the larger church down the road does better. It is in the vow of those who refuse to return to worship if a mask must cover their face citing government control to shut down the churches… Even though they give them what they claim the government wants. These conversations are enraging and exhausting. All I want is for you to come in and hear. This is my confession. 

I got a call a while back that we had a member who was in the COVID unit entering hospice. I wasn’t allowed to visit him to protect me from getting exposed to death. This pissed me off, but of course, what could I do? That was that. It just is. Why fight it? So, I didn’t. I cursed in my office, and he died with the beeps of machines in his ears instead of God’s Word. Instead, I prayed from a distance that God would take Him into his loving arms where He would rest until the resurrection. I know that God keeps His Word, yet this still haunts me. This is my confession. 

When all of this began, the name of the game was making decisions that were out of love and concern for the neighbor. Close the church, cancel Bible study, and no more potlucks or you could have blood on your hands. Here we are a year later and this sentiment remains, but in the meantime, some people have not received the flesh and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith for the same amount of time. For all I know, some sheep are lost and there is no one going to find them. There is no one feeding them. Then it comes to my realization that we can love our neighbors to death. This is my confession. 

I am not sure how else to say this, you might not need a hug (my guess is you do), but you do need the Word, you need Christ’s body and blood, and I am desperate to give it to you. But I am afraid I have led you astray, I am afraid that out of my concern for your physical health I have neglected you spiritually, I am afraid I have failed you. This is my confession.