How many different things can a room built to be an eating hall be used for?
I found myself wondering this this week as I took down chairs from one gathering and set them back up in a different configuration for another. While our Fellowship Hall is no stranger to its use as something more than, well, an eating hall (a sanctuary for our 8:45 A.M. service, wedding reception hall, Super Bowl watching venue, youth group movie theater… the list goes on and on), it has certain been pushed to its full potential since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring.
These days, on Sunday mornings, chairs sit in socially distanced rows of four or five chairs, each marked by a letter and number. Sunday nights the rows get pushed aside as the youth group gathers in a closer – but distanced – group set-up. On Monday, the rows disappear completely as six circle tables are set-up for our Creativity Spiritual Formation track class to safely gather. On Tuesdays those tables often disappear as a socially distanced circle is set-up to prepare for a committee meeting. Wednesdays have seen the circle turn into long tables set-up for a distanced gathering needing a conference style set-up where some of the attendees join via video chat. By Sunday, it has returned back to it’s thirteen rows, ready for Sunday worship yet again.
No, our Fellowship Hall is hardly a food hall these days, but that does not mean that it’s not being used – just in new ways the likes of which it was never really intended for.
If we really think about it, we are a lot like our Fellowship Hall as a community of faith. We have had to adjust to a new reality that we were not prepared for and we’ve had to reconfigure our own lives, sometimes daily, so that we can keep moving forward. Each week begins another blank slate and there is no telling what things might look like by the end of it all.
While most of us have not been happy about the work, strain, and stress that goes into moving the chairs and tables of “normal” life we’ve grown comfortable with, we’ve realized that it is a necessary part of living life in a pandemic.
In reality –– the pandemic AND the “normal” kind –– Jesus promised us that things would never be easy as we seek to follow him. He told us that being a Christian is a lot more like a changing Fellowship Hall than it is one that stays the same week after week. As his followers we are called to be as flexible as he was in an ever-changing world. We are to see that things cannot remain how they’ve always been if as we continue to build the Kingdom of God in the world around us.
As we prepare for another week ahead, what areas of your life might Christ be calling you to give a little more flexibility toward? What spaces have you found yourself frustrated in where Jesus is saying “let go” as he reminds you that “change is ok!” As we cultivate a vision for who we are in this upside down world –– both as individuals and as a community –– the path will not be easy. Just like changing a big room designated as an eating hall into a Sanctuary, conference room, committee space, or youth room takes hard work, time, and flexibility, so too does our own journey as we seek to follow Christ into his vision for the future.
Change is not coming, friends, it is here. Let’s pick up some chairs and start moving.